Surface energy, surface topography & adhesion

David E Packham

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In this paper are discussed some of the fundamental principles which are relevant to an understanding of the influence that interfacial roughness may have on adhesion. The surface energies of the adhesive, substrate and of the interface between them determine the extent of wetting or spreading at equilibrium. Numerical values for surface energies may be obtained either from contact angle measurements or from analysing force-displacement curves obtained from the surface forces apparatus. The extent to which the relationships, appropriate for plane surfaces, may be modified to take into account interfacial roughness are discussed. For modest extents of roughness, the application of a simple roughness factor may be satisfactory, but this is unrealistic for many of the practical surfaces of relevance to adhesive technology which are very rough, and is ultimately meaningless, if the surface is fractal in nature. Some examples are discussed of published work involving polymer-metal and polymer-polymer adhesion, where the roughness of the interface exerts a significant influence on the adhesion obtained. Roughness over a range of scales from microns to nanometres may strengthen an interface, increasing fracture energy by allowing bulk energy dissipating processes to be activated when the bond is stressed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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