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Wetting of Simple Liquids and Cohesive Cells on Soft Surfaces

Eric Dufresnes, Yale University

How does a drop of water rest on a solid surface ? The textbook answer to this simple question has unphysical implications. It suggests that a meager drop of water applies a divergent stress to its substrate at the contact line where solid, liquid and vapor meet. We measure the deformation of a soft elastic solid near a contact line and find that the solid sidesteps this singularity by mimicking a liquid.

If time permits, I will discuss striking similarities between the wetting of simple liquids and the spreading of cohesive cells.