Buckling of spherical shells adhering onto a rigid substrate

  • S. Komura
  • K. Tamura
  • T. Kato
Regular Articles


Deformation of a spherical shell adhering onto a rigid substrate due to van der Waals attractive interaction is investigated by means of numerical minimization (conjugate gradient method) of the sum of the elastic and adhesion energies. The conformation of the deformed shell is governed by two dimensionless parameters, i.e., Cs/epsilon and Cb/epsilon where Cs and Cb are respectively the stretching and the bending constants, and epsilon is the depth of the van der Waals potential between the shell and substrate. Four different regimes of deformation are characterized as these parameters are systematically varied: (i) small deformation regime, (ii) disk formation regime, (iii) isotropic buckling regime, and (iv) anisotropic buckling regime. By measuring the various quantities of the deformed shells, we find that both discontinuous and continuous bucking transitions occur for large and small Cs/epsilon, respectively. This behavior of the buckling transition is analogous to van der Waals liquids or gels, and we have numerically determined the associated critical point. Scaling arguments are employed to explain the adhesion induced buckling transition, i.e., from the disk formation regime to the isotropic buckling regime. We show that the buckling transition takes place when the indentation length exceeds the effective shell thickness which is determined from the elastic constants. This prediction is in good agreement with our numerical results. Moreover, the ratio between the indentation length and its thickness at the transition point provides a constant number (2–3) independent of the shell size. This universal number is observed in various experimental systems ranging from nanoscale to macroscale. In particular, our results agree well with the recent compression experiment using microcapsules.


Elastic Constant Conjugate Gradient Spherical Shell Shell Thickness Conjugate Gradient Method 
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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryFaculty of Science, Tokyo Metropolitan UniversityTokyoJapan

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