Drop morphologies on flexible fibers: influence of elastocapillary effects.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1039/c6sm00921b
Various materials are made of long thin fibers that are randomly oriented to form a complex network in which drops of wetting liquid tend to accumulate at the nodes. The capillary force exerted by the liquid can bend flexible fibers, which in turn influences the morphology adopted by the liquid. In this paper, we investigate through a model situation the role of the fiber flexibility on the shape of a small volume of liquid on a pair of crossed flexible fibers. We characterize the liquid morphologies as we vary the volume of liquid, the angle between the fibers, and the length of the fibers. The drop morphologies previously reported for rigid crossed fibers, i.e., a drop, a column and a mixed morphology, are also observed on flexible crossed fibers with modified domains of existence. In addition, at small tilt angles between the fibers, a new behavior is observed: the fibers bend and collapse. Depending on the volume of liquid, a thin column with or without a drop is reported on the collapsed fibers. Our study suggests that the fiber flexibility adds a rich variety of behaviors that may be important for some applications.