Elastomeric seal such as O-ring and gasket is one the dominant applications of soft materials. While hard materials like metal and ceramics generally have better barrier properties by themselves, it is extremely hard to perfectly mate them at the interfaces. Consequently, leaking in a rigid structure happens easily through the tiny gaps on the interface. Soft materials, on the other hand, easily adapts to different surface geometry and achieves seamless sealing with rather forgiving manufacturing tolerance. In an all-soft-material setting, such as in heart valves and certain soft robotics application, hard materials are incapable of adapting to the moving deformable boundaries. We again must rely on soft seals.

Related publications

  • Wang, Z., Chen, C., Liu, Q., Lou, Y., & Suo, Z. (2017). Extrusion, slide, and rupture of an elastomeric seal. JOURNAL OF THE MECHANICS AND PHYSICS OF SOLIDS, 99, 289-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jmps.2016.12.007.
  • Wang, Z., Liu, Q., Lou, Y., Jin, H., & Suo, Z. (2015). Elastic Leak for a Better Seal. JOURNAL OF APPLIED MECHANICS-TRANSACTIONS OF THE ASME, 82(8), 081010. doi: 10.1115/1.4030660.
  • Liu, Q., Wang, Z., Lou, Y., & Suo, Z. (2014). Elastic leak of a seal. Extreme Mechanics Letters, 1, 54-61. doi: 10.1016/j.eml.2014.10.001.