Lubrication of soft viscoelastic solids

A. Pandey, S. Karpitschka, C.H. Venner, J.H. Snoeijer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    Lubrication flows appear in many applications in engineering, biophysics and nature. Separation of surfaces and minimisation of friction and wear is achieved when the lubricating fluid builds up a lift force. In this paper we analyse soft lubricated contacts by treating the solid walls as viscoelastic: soft materials are typically not purely elastic, but dissipate energy under dynamical loading conditions. We present a method for viscoelastic lubrication and focus on three canonical examples, namely Kelvin-Voigt, standard linear and power law rheology. It is shown how the solid viscoelasticity affects the lubrication process when the time scale of loading becomes comparable to the rheological time scale. We derive asymptotic relations between the lift force and the sliding velocity, which give scaling laws that inherit a signature of the rheology. In all cases the lift is found to decrease with respect to purely elastic systems.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)433-447
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2016


    • fluid-structure interaction
    • lubrication theory
    • viscoelasticity


    Dive into the research topics of 'Lubrication of soft viscoelastic solids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this