(409e) Controlling Crack Evolution in Drying Suspensions

Cho, H. J., Princeton University
Lu, N. B., MIT
Datta, S. S., Princeton University
Drying-induced cracking that originates from the shrinking of materials compromises the integrity of structural materials, coatings, and geological formations. Effective ways to control crack formation, or even to heal existing cracks, are lacking. To gain insight into the physics underlying crack evolution, we perform drying experiments on controlled packings of shrinkable particles. The interplay between fluid transport, particle shrinkage, capillary cohesion, and adhesion with the substrate yields a rich array of drying behaviors and cracking patterns that can be predicted using ideas from linear elasticity and fracture mechanics. Moreover, we show that tailoring the drying profile enables the control of crack formation and even can induce cracks to spontaneously heal. Ultimately, the insights gained from our work pave a way to better manage drying-induced cracks in engineering applications.