Adhesion of Soft Materials to Rough Surfaces: Experimental Studies, Statistical Analysis and Modelling

Adhesion between rough surfaces is an active field of research where both experimental studies and theoretical modelling are used. However, it is rather difficult to conduct precise experimental evaluations of adhesive properties of the so-called anti-adhesive materials. Hence, it was suggested earlier by Purtov et al. (2013) to prepare epoxy resin replicas of surfaces having different topography and conduct depth-sensing indentation of the samples using a micro-force tester with a spherical smooth probe made of the compliant polydimethylsiloxane polymer in order to compare values of the force of adhesion to the surfaces. Surprising experimental observations were obtained in which a surface having very small roughness showed the greater value of the force of adhesion than the value for a replica of smooth surface. A plausible explanation of the data was given suggesting that these rough surfaces had full adhesive contact and their true contact area is greater than the area for a smooth surface, while the surfaces with higher values of roughness do not have full contact. Here, the experimental results of surface topography measurements and the statistical analysis of the data are presented. Several modern tests of normality used showed that the height distribution of the surfaces under investigation is normal (Gaussian) and hence the classic statistical models of adhesive contact between rough surfaces may formally be used. Employing one of the Galanov (2011) models of adhesive contact between rough surfaces, the plausible explanation of the experimental observations has been confirmed and theoretically justified.


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