Sébastien Neukirch
Institut Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Université Pierre et Marie Curie
Paris, France

tel: +33 1 44 27 72 61
fax : +33 1 44 27 52 59
e-mail: sebastien.neukirch (-atat-) upmc.fr

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Elasto-capillary interactions: Piercing an interface with an elastic rod

Sébastien Neukirch, Benoît Roman, Benoît de Gaudemaris, and José Bico

Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 55 (2007) 1212-1235

Abstract : When a slender elastic structure comes in contact with a liquid interface, capillary forces can be large enough to deflect it. This effect takes its full importance at small scales where capillary forces are predominant, for example in microsystems (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems or microfluidic devices) in humid environment. We study here a model system at macroscopic scale, where an immersed elastic strut is brought to contact with a liquid surface. In spite of its simplicity, this experiment reveals a complex phase diagram, involving large hysteretic behaviour. Using Kirchhoff equations for thin elastic rods and path-following methods, we describe the different equilibrium states and the transitions experimentally observed.

Key words : surface tension, Kirchhoff rods with menicus effects, hydrostatics and gravity. Experiments, numerical continuation.

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