Curvature-controlled delamination patterns of thin films on spherical substrates

Liangliang ZHU, Haozhi YUAN, Kai WU, Xueru WANG, Gang LIU, Jun SUN, Xiangbiao LIAO*, Xi CHEN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Periodic delamination patterns in multilayer structures have exhibited extensive applications in microelectronics and optics devices. However, delamination behaviors of a closed thin shell on spherical substrates are still elusive. Herein, a unique instability mechanism of buckle delamination in a closed thin film weakly bonded to spherical substrates is studied by experiments, simulations, and theoretical analyses. The system of an Al film depositing on polystyrene spheres subjected to thermal mismatch strain is used for demonstration. Unlike traditional phenomena of wrinkling and wrinkle-induced delamination under increasing misfit strain, the weak adhesion between the core and shell results in a periodic pattern of delaminated hexagonal dimples that emerges directly from the smooth sphere configuration, before which no wrinkling occurs. Both substrate curvature and interfacial adhesion are revealed to control the dimple size and delamination width. These findings open a new venue for manifesting new controllable features for surface microfabrication. © 2021 The Author(s)
Original languageEnglish
Article number102616
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (12002271, 11872302, 51801146, and 51625103), Xi'an Science and Technology Plan Project, China (2019220914SYS024CG046), and Earth Engineering Center and Center for Advanced Materials for Energy and Environment at Columbia University. We are appreciated for helpful suggestions from Prof. Yong Ni working at the University of Science and Technology of China. L.Z. X.L. and X.C. designed the study. L.Z. and X.L. were responsible for simulations and theoretical analysis. H.Y. L.Z. X.L. K.W. X.W. G.L. and J.S. conducted the experiments. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript. The authors declare no competing interests.


  • condensed matter physics
  • nanotechnology
  • soft matter


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