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Stiffening solids with liquid inclusions
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2015 (English)In: Nature Physics, ISSN 1745-2473, E-ISSN 1745-2481, Vol. 11, no 1, 82-87 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

From bone and wood to concrete and carbon fibre, composites are ubiquitous natural and synthetic materials. Eshelby's inclusion theory describes how macroscopic stress fields couple to isolated microscopic inclusions, allowing prediction of a composite's bulk mechanical properties from a knowledge of its microstructure. It has been extended to describe a wide variety of phenomena from solid fracture to cell adhesion. Here, we show experimentally and theoretically that Eshelby's theory breaks down for small liquid inclusions in a soft solid. In this limit, an isolated droplet's deformation is strongly size-dependent, with the smallest droplets mimicking the behaviour of solid inclusions. Furthermore, in opposition to the predictions of conventional composite theory, we find that finite concentrations of small liquid inclusions enhance the stiffness of soft solids. A straightforward extension of Eshelby's theory, accounting for the surface tension of the solid-liquid interface, explains our experimental observations. The counterintuitive stiffening of solids by fluid inclusions is expected whenever inclusion radii are smaller than an elastocapillary length, given by the ratio of the surface tension to Young's modulus of the solid matrix. These results suggest that surface tension can be a simple and effective mechanism to cloak the far-field elastic signature of inclusions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 11, no 1, 82-87 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-159112DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS3181ISI: 000346831100028ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84927177361OAI: diva2:784297
Swedish Research Council

QC 20150129

Available from: 2015-01-29 Created: 2015-01-22 Last updated: 2015-01-29Bibliographically approved

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Wettlaufer, John S.
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Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics NORDITA
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