skip to main content


Title: Lubricated soft normal elastic contact of a sphere: a new numerical method and experiment
An important problem in lubrication is the squeezing of a thin liquid film between a rigid sphere and an elastic substrate under normal contact. Numerical solution of this problem typically uses iteration techniques. A difficulty with iteration schemes is that convergence becomes increasingly difficult under increasingly heavy loads. Here we devise a numerical scheme that does not involve iteration. Instead, a linear problem is solved at every time step. The scheme is fully automatic, stable and efficient. We illustrate this technique by solving a relaxation test in which a rigid spherical indenter is brought rapidly into normal contact with a thick elastic substrate lubricated by a liquid film. The sphere is then fixed in position as the pressure relaxes. We also carried out relaxation experiments on a lubricated soft PDMS (polydimethysiloxane) substrate under different conditions. These experiments are in excellent agreement with the numerical solution.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1854572
NSF-PAR ID:
10337792
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Soft Matter
Volume:
18
Issue:
6
ISSN:
1744-683X
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1219 to 1227
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Lubricated sliding on soft elastic substrates occurs in a variety of natural and technological settings. It very often occurs in the iso-viscous elasto-hydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) regime ( e.g. , soft solid, low pressure). In this regime, for sliding of a smooth sphere on a soft solid, a “Hertz-like” effective contact region forms. Much of the fluid is squeezed out of the contact region although enough is retained to keep the solid surfaces fully separated. This is accompanied by complex deformation of the soft solid. The behavior of such soft lubricated contacts is controlled by a single dimensionless parameter 1/ β that can be interpreted as a normalized sliding velocity. Solving this fundamental soft-lubrication problem poses significant computational difficulty for large β , which is the limit relevant for soft solids. As a consequence, little is known about the structure of the flow field under soft lubrication in the intake and outlet regions. Here we present a new solution of this soft lubrication problem focusing on the “Hertz” limit. We develop a formulation in polar coordinates that handles difficult computational issues much better than previous methods. We study how hydrodynamic pressure, film thickness and hydrodynamic friction vary with β . Scaling laws for these relationships are given in closed form for a range of β not previously accessible theoretically but that is typical in applications. The computational method presented here can be used to study other soft lubrication problems. 
    more » « less
  2. We study the coupling between rotation and translation of a submerged cylinder in lubricated contact with a soft elastic substrate. Using numerical solutions and asymptotic theory, we analyze the elastohydrodynamic problem over the entire range of substrate deformations relative to the thickness of the intervening fluid film. We find a strong coupling between the rotation and translation of the cylinder when the surface deformation of the substrate is comparable to the thickness of the lubricating fluid layer. In the limit of large deformations, we show that the bodies are in near-Hertzian contact and cylinder rolls without slip, reminiscent of dry frictional contact. When the surface deformation is small relative to the separation between the surfaces, the coupling persists but is weaker, and the rotation rate scales with the translation speed to the one-third power. We then show how the external application of a torque modifies these behaviors by generating different combinations of rotational and translational motions, including back-spinning and top-spinning states. We demonstrate that these behaviors are robust regardless of whether the elastic substrate is thick or thin relative to the length scales of the flow. 
    more » « less
  3. In preparation for a more thorough study based on our own experimental work of the debonding of a thin film gel by stress concentration on the interface with a rigid substrate, in this article we revisit, from the viewpoint of the synergy between mathematics, exper- iments, and finite element simulations, the problem of the swelling of a thin rectangular polyacrylamide gel covalently bonded on the bottom surface to a glass slide. With meth- ods of the calculus of variations and perturbation theory we show that the solution to the corresponding zero-displacement boundary value problem converges, in the thin film limit, to a uniquely defined uniform uniaxial extension on the direction normal to the substrate. Both the experiments and the finite element simulations that we perform confirm that the amount of lateral swelling is very small, with a very good quantitative agreement between the two approaches. The proposed model of minimizing an energy functional comprising both a term for the elastic distortion and the Flory-Huggins expression for the entropy of mixing is thus experimentally and numerically validated, with parameters coming from ex- perimental measurements, including the initial polymer volume fraction of the hydrogel synthesized in the laboratory (which is taken as the reference configuration instead of the dry polymer). 
    more » « less
  4. A high-order in space spectral-element methodology for the solution of a strongly coupled fluid-structure interaction (FSI) problem is developed. A methodology is based on a partitioned solution of incompressible fluid equations on body-fitted grids, and nonlinearly-elastic solid deformation equations coupled via a fixed-point iteration approach with Aitken relaxation. A comprehensive verification strategy of the developed methodology is presented, including h-, p-and temporal refinement studies. An expected order of convergence is demonstrated first separately for the corresponding fluid and solid solvers, followed by a self-convergence study on a coupled FSI problem (self-convergence refers to a convergence to a reference solution obtained with the same solver at higher resolution). To this end, a new three-dimensional fluid-structure interaction benchmark is proposed for a verification of the FSI codes, which consists of a fluid flow in a channel with one rigid and one flexible wall. It is shown that, due to a consistent problem formulation, including initial and boundary conditions, a high-order spatial convergence on a fully coupled FSI problem can be demonstrated. Finally, a developed framework is applied successfully to a Direct Numerical Simulation of a turbulent flow in a channel interacting with a compliant wall, where the fluid-structure interface is fully resolved. 
    more » « less
  5. A thin liquid droplet spreads on a soft viscoelastic substrate with arbitrary rheology. Lubrication theory is applied to the governing field equations in the liquid and solid domains, which are coupled through the free boundary at the solid–liquid interface, to derive a set of reduced equations that describe the spreading dynamics. Fourier transform techniques and the finite difference method are used to construct a solution for the dynamic liquid–gas and solid–liquid interface shapes, as well as the macroscopic contact angle. Substrate properties affect the spreading dynamics through the contact angle and internal droplet flow fields, and these mechanisms are revealed. Increased substrate softness increases the spreading rate, whereas increased viscoelasticity decreases the spreading rate. For the case of a purely elastic substrate, the spreading power-law exponent recovers Tanner's law in the rigid limit and increases with substrate softness.

     
    more » « less