Effect of relative humidity on the peeling behavior of a thin film on a rigid substrate.
Inspired by gecko adhesion in humid environments, a modified Kendall's model is established in order to investigate the effect of relative humidity on the interfacial peeling behavior of a thin film adhering on a rigid substrate. When the humidity is less than 90%, a monolayer of water molecules adsorbed on the substrate surface induces a strong disjoining pressure at the interface. As a result, the steady-state peel-off force between the thin film and substrate is significantly enhanced. When the humidity is greater than 90%, water molecules condense into water droplets. Four different peeling models are established on this occasion, depending on the surface wettability of the film and substrate. It is found that the steady-state peel-off force is influenced by the water meniscus in a complicated manner, which is either enhanced or reduced by the water capillarity comparing to that predicted by the classical Kendall's model, i.e., a dry peeling model. It should be noted that, at the vicinity of the wetting transition, the peel-off force of the four models can be reduced to an identical one, which means the four peeling models can transit from one to another continuously. The present model, as an extension of the classical Kendall's one, should be useful not only for understanding gecko adhesion in humid environments, but also for analyzing interface behaviors of a film-substrate system in real applications.
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