Effect of the density of pillar-patterned substrates on contact mechanics: Transition from top to mixed contact with a detailed pressure-field description
Different contact regimes between a spherical lens and a periodically patterned substrate are observed, when they are pressed against each other. Top contact occurs when only the highest substrate sections touch the lens, whereas mixed contact implies that both the highest and the lowest substrate sections come into contact with the lens. In this paper, we study how the pattern density of the substrate, along with its physical properties and those of the lens, determine the transition from top contact to mixed contact. Experiments and numerical simulations had been performed, as complementary approaches to obtain data, and a theoretical analysis has been developed to gain insight on the effect of the physical parameters on the contact transition. As a result, a phase diagram is presented, in terms of the load and the contact radius, that combines the observations of the three approaches (experimental, numerical, and theoretical), unveiling the boundaries of three contact regimes: (1) deterministic-driven contact, (2) top contact, and (3) mixed contact.