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Journal Article

Self-similarity and energy dissipation in stepped polymer films


Bäumchen,  Oliver
Group Dynamics of fluid and biological interfaces, Department of Dynamics of Complex Fluids, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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McGraw, J. D., Salez, T., Bäumchen, O., Raphaël, É., & Dalnoki-Veress, K. (2012). Self-similarity and energy dissipation in stepped polymer films. Physical Review Letters, 109(12): 128303. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.128303.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-7685-7
The surface of a thin liquid film with a nonconstant curvature is unstable, as the Laplace pressure drives a flow mediated by viscosity. We present the results of experiments on one of the simplest variable curvature surfaces: a thin polymer film with a step. Height profiles are measured as a function of time for a variety of molecular weights. The evolution of the profiles is shown to be self-similar. This self-similarity offers a precise measurement of the capillary velocity by comparison with numerical solutions of the thin film equation. We also derive a master expression for the time dependence of the excess free energy as a function of the material properties and film geometry. The experiment and theory are in excellent agreement and indicate the effectiveness of stepped polymer films to elucidate nanoscale rheological properties.