Contact mechanics and the adhesion of soft solids

Kenneth R. Shull*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

385 Scopus citations


The contact behavior of solid materials is determined by the system geometry, externally applied loads and internal adhesive forces, and by the materials properties. As the size and stiffness of a material decrease, adhesive forces become increasingly important in determining its contact behavior. The current trends toward the use of smaller features in many areas of technology, and the importance of 'soft' materials including biological tissues, elastomers and polymer gels, demand that the effects of adhesion on contact mechanics be properly understood. The focus of this review is on the mechanics of contact experiments that are commonly used to characterize adhesion, and on the materials science of adhesion of elastic and viscoelastic materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-45
Number of pages45
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering: R: Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2002


  • Adhesion
  • Contact mechanics
  • Elastomers
  • Gels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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