Modeling capillary bridge dynamics and crack healing between surfaces of nanoscale roughness

Emrecan Soylemez, Maarten P. De Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Capillary bridge formation between adjacent surfaces in humid environments is a ubiquitous phenomenon. It strongly influences tribological performance with respect to adhesion, friction and wear. Only a few studies, however, assess effects due to capillary dynamics. Here we focus on how capillary bridge evolution influences crack healing rates. Experimental results indicated a logarithmic decrease in average crack healing velocity as the energy release rate increases. Our objective is to model that trend. We assume that capillary dynamics involve two mechanisms: capillary bridge growth and subsequently nucleation followed by growth. We show that by incorporating interface roughness details and the presence of an adsorbed water layer, the behavior of capillary force dynamics can be understood quantitatively. We identify three important regimes that control the healing process, namely bridge growth, combined bridge growth and nucleation, and finally bridge nucleation. To fully capture the results, however, the theoretical model for nucleation time required an empirical modification. Our model enables significant insight into capillary bridge dynamics, with a goal of attaining a predictive capability for this important microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) reliability failure mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125023
JournalJournal of Micromechanics and Microengineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 IOP Publishing Ltd.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the Research Fund of the Marmara University, Scientific Research Projects Committee. Project Number: FEN-K-131216-0543. We also acknowledge National Science Foundation funding through CMMI Grant No. CMMI 1030322.

FundersFunder number
Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing InnovationCMMI 1030322
National Science Foundation


    • capillary force
    • capillary growth
    • capillary kinetics
    • capillary nucleation
    • crack healing
    • micro/nano scale interface model
    • nano-scale adhesion


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