Surface Tension Controls the Hydraulic Fracture of Adhesive Interfaces Bridged by Molecular Bonds

Author (s): Kaurin, D.; Arroyo, M.
Journal: Physical Review Letters

Volume: 123
Date: 2019

Biological function requires cell-cell adhesions to tune their cohesiveness; for instance, during the opening of new fluid-filled cavities under hydraulic pressure. To understand the physical mechanisms supporting this adaptability, we develop a stochastic model for the hydraulic fracture of adhesive interfaces bridged by molecular bonds. We find that surface tension strongly enhances the stability of these interfaces by controlling flaw sensitivity, lifetime, and optimal architecture in terms of bond clustering. We also show that bond mobility embrittles adhesions and changes the mechanism of decohesion. Our study provides a mechanistic background to understand the biological regulation of cell-cell cohesion and fracture.