Annular cracks of thin films of colloidal silica particles coating a fiber


We report an experimental study of the crack pattern formed during the drying of a colloidal suspension. A horizontal fiber, which provides a one dimensional, boundary-free substrate, is coated by a film of micronic thickness. The geometry imposes a remarkable annular crack pattern and allowing precise measurements of the crack spacing over a short range of film thickness (between 2 and 10 $μ$m) which varies linearly with the film height. We compare our experimental data with a model proposed by Kitsunezaki which suggests that the variation of the crack spacing with the film thickness depends on the ratio between a critical stress at cracking and a critical stress for slipping on the substrate. By measuring the friction force of the colloidal gels on a hydrophobic surface through a cantilever technique, we can deduce the critical crack stress for these colloidal gels simply by measuring the crack spacing of the pattern.