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On the Effect of Shear Loading Rate on Contact Area Shrinking in Adhesive Soft Contacts

Antonio Papangelo's picture

Adhesion and, its interplay with friction, is central in several engineering applications involving soft contacts. Recently, there has been an incredible push towards a better understanding on how the apparent contact area evolves when a shear load is applied to an adhesive soft contact, both experimentally and theoretically. Although soft materials are well-known to exhibit rate-dependent properties, there is still a lack of understanding in how the loading rate could affect the contact area shrinking. Indeed, most of the experiments involving a sphere-flat contact have been conducted at a fixed loading rate, and, so far, analytical models have assumed a constant work of adhesion, independent on the peeling velocity. Here, by using linear elastic fracture mechanics, an analytical model is derived for the contact of a rigid sphere on a soft adhesive substrate, which is aimed at elucidating the effect that a rate-dependent work of adhesion has on the contact area shrinking. The model results show that contact area reduction is very sensitive to the loading rate, with slower loading rates promoting a stronger shrinking, which seems in agreement with Literature results. Furthermore, it is shown that rate effects enhance the apparent interfacial toughness, i.e. more energy is needed to drive the system from full stick up to gross sliding.

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