Volume 122, Number 3, May 2018
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties|
|Published online||28 June 2018|
Hydrogel menisci: Shape, interaction, and instability
1 Physics of Fluids Group, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Twente - P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
2 Department of Applied Physics, Eindhoven University of Technology - P.O. Box 513, 5600MB Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Received: 15 March 2018
Accepted: 4 June 2018
The interface of a soft hydrogel is easily deformed when it is in contact with particles, droplets or cells. Here we compute the intricate shapes of hydrogel menisci due to the indentation of point particles. The analysis is based on a free energy formulation, by which we also assess the interaction laws between neighbouring particles on hydrogel interfaces, similar to the “Cheerios effect”. It is shown how the meniscus formed around the particles results from a competition between surface tension, elasticity and hydrostatic pressure inside the gel. We provide a detailed overview of the various scaling laws, which are governed by a characteristic shear modulus that is based on surface tension γ and gravity . Stiffer materials exhibit a solid-like response while softer materials are more liquid-like. The importance of is further illustrated by examining the Rayleigh-Taylor instability of soft hydrogels.
PACS: 62.20.D- – Elasticity / 68.03.Cd – Surface tension and related phenomena / 83.80.Kn – Physical gels and microgels
© EPLA, 2018
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