We study the capillary adhesion of a spherical elastic cap on a rigid sphere of a different radius. Caps of small area accommodate the combination of flexural and in-plane strains induced by the mismatch in curvature, and fully adhere to the sphere. Conversely, wider caps delaminate and exhibit only partial contact. We determine the maximum size of the cap enabling full adhesion and describe its dependence on experimental parameters through a balance of stretching and adhesion energies. Beyond the maximum size, complex adhesion patterns such as blisters, bubbles or star shapes are observed. We rationalize these different states in configuration diagrams where stretching, bending and adhesion energies are compared through two dimensionless parameters.

Soft Matter
Mechanical Metamaterials

Bense, H., Tani, M., Saint-Jean, M., Reyssat, E., Roman, B., & Bico, J. (2020). Elastocapillary adhesion of a soft cap on a rigid sphere. Soft Matter, 16(8), 1961–1966. doi:10.1039/c9sm02057h