Pinning-Induced Folding-Unfolding Asymmetry in Adhesive Creases

Michiel A.J. Van Limbeek, Martin H. Essink, Anupam Pandey, Jacco H. Snoeijer, Stefan Karpitschka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The compression of soft elastic matter and biological tissue can lead to creasing, an instability where a surface folds sharply into periodic self-contacts. Intriguingly, the unfolding of the surface upon releasing the strain is usually not perfect: small scars remain that serve as nuclei for creases during repeated compressions. Here we present creasing experiments with sticky polymer surfaces, using confocal microscopy, which resolve the contact line region where folding and unfolding occurs. It is found that surface tension induces a second fold, at the edge of the self-contact, which leads to a singular elastic stress and self-similar crease morphologies. However, these profiles exhibit an intrinsic folding-unfolding asymmetry that is caused by contact line pinning, in a way that resembles wetting of liquids on imperfect solids. Contact line pinning is therefore a key element of creasing: it inhibits complete unfolding and gives soft surfaces a folding memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number028001
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 9 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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