Adhesive contact of model randomly rough rubber surfaces

Research paper by Vito Acito, Michele Ciavarella, Alexis M Prevost, Antoine Chateauminois

Indexed on: 18 Feb '19Published on: 18 Feb '19Published in: arXiv - Physics - Soft Condensed Matter


We study experimentally and theoretically the equilibrium adhesive contact between a smooth glass lens and a rough rubber surface textured with spherical microasperities with controlled height and spatial distributions. Measurements of the real contact area $A$ versus load $P$ are performed under compression by imaging the light transmitted at the microcontacts. $A(P)$ is found to be non-linear and to strongly depend on the standard deviation of the asperity height distribution. Experimental results are discussed in the light of a discrete version of Fuller and Tabor's (FT) original model (\textit{Proceedings of the Royal Society A} \textbf{345} (1975) 327), which allows to take into account the elastic coupling arising from both microasperities interactions and curvature of the glass lens. Our experimental data on microcontact size distributions are well captured by our discrete extended model. We show that the elastic coupling arising from the lens curvature has a significant contribution to the $A(P)$ relationship. Our discrete model also clearly shows that the adhesion-induced effect on $A$ remains significant even for vanishingly small pull-off forces. Last, at the local asperity length scale, our measurements show that the pressure dependence of the microcontacts density can be simply described by the original FT model.