Detachment of compliant films adhered to stiff substrates via van der Waals interactions: Role of frictional sliding during peeling

Rachel R. Collino, Noah R. Philips, Michael N. Rossol, Robert M. McMeeking, Matthew R. Begley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The remarkable ability of some plants and animals to cling strongly to substrates despite relatively weak interfacial bonds has important implications for the development of synthetic adhesives. Here, we examine the origins of large detachment forces using a thin elastomer tape adhered to a glass slide via van der Waals interactions, which serves as a model system for geckos, mussels and ivy. The forces required for peeling of the tape are shown to be a strong function of the angle of peeling, which is a consequence of frictional sliding at the edge of attachment that serves to dissipate energy that would otherwise drive detachment. Experiments and theory demonstrate that proper accounting for frictional sliding leads to an inferred work of adhesion of only approximately 0.5 J m22 (defined for purely normal separations) for all load orientations. This starkly contrasts with the interface energies inferred using conventional interface fracture models that assume pure sticking behaviour, which are considerably larger and shown to depend not only on the mode-mixity, but also on the magnitude of the mode-I stress intensity factor. The implications for developing frameworks to predict detachment forces in the presence of interface sliding are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140453
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number97
Early online date6 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding statement
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation through award number CMMI-1063714. M.N.R. was supported in part by The Pratt and Whitney Center of Excellence at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


  • Digital image correlation
  • Friction
  • Peel test
  • Poly (dimethylsiloxane)
  • Slip
  • Thin-film adhesion


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