Long-wave dynamics of an elastic sheet lubricated by a thin liquid film on a wetting substrate

Y. N. Young, H. A. Stone

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6 Scopus citations


The dynamics of an elastic sheet lubricated by a thin liquid film on a wetting solid substrate is examined using both numerical simulations of a long-wave lubrication equation and a quasistatic model. Interactions between the liquid and the wetting substrate are modeled by a disjoining pressure that gives rise to an ultrathin (precursor) film. For a fluid interface without elastic bending stiffness, a flat precursor film may be linearly unstable and evolve towards an equilibrium of a single "drop" connected to a flat ultrathin film. Similar behavior is found when the thin film is covered by an elastic sheet: The sheet deforms, rearranging the thin liquid film, and contributes regulating surface forces such as a bending resistance and/or a tensile force, which may arise from interactions between the sheet and liquid or inextensibility of the sheet. Glasner's quasistatic model [Phys. Fluids 15, 1837 (2003)PHFLE61070-663110.1063/1.1578076], developed for a liquid film, is adopted to investigate the combined effects of elastic and tensile forces in the sheet on the thin film dynamics. The equilibrium height of the drop is found to vary inversely with the bending rigidity. When the elastic sheet is inextensible (such as a lipid bilayer membrane), a compressive tensile force may occur and the equilibrium film height is dependent less on the bending rigidity and more on the excess area of the membrane. Analyses of the lubrication equation also show that the precursor film transitions monotonically to the core film for tension-dominated dynamics. In contrast, for elasticity-dominated dynamics, a spatial oscillation of film height in the contact line region is found. In addition, elasticity in the sheet causes a sliding motion of the thin film: the contact angle is rendered zero by elasticity, and the contact line moves at a finite speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064001
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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