Contact instability of thin elastic films on patterned substrates

Mukherjee, Rabibrata; Pangule, Ravindra C.; Sharma, Ashutosh; Banerjee, Indrani
August 2007
Journal of Chemical Physics;8/14/2007, Vol. 127 Issue 6, p064703
Academic Journal
The free surface of a soft elastic film becomes unstable and forms an isotropic labyrinth pattern when a rigid flat plate is brought into adhesive contact with the film. These patterns have a characteristic wavelength, λ∼3H, where H is the film thickness. We show that these random structures can be ordered, modulated, and aligned by depositing the elastic film (cross-linked polydimethylsiloxane) on a patterned substrate and by bringing the free surface of the film in increasing adhesive contact with a flat stamp. Interestingly, the influence of the substrate “bleeds” through the film to its free surface. It becomes possible to generate complex two-dimensional ordered structures such as an array of femtoliter beakers even by using a simple one-dimensional stripe patterned substrate when the instability wavelength, λ∼3H, nearly matches the substrate pattern periodicity. The free surface morphology is modulated in situ by merely varying the stamp-surface separation distance. The free surface structures originating from the elastic contact instability can also be made permanent by the UV-ozone induced oxidation and stiffening.


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