Roughness of moving elastic lines: Crack and wetting fronts

E. Katzav*, M. Adda-Bedia, M. Ben Amar, A. Boudaoud

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We investigate propagating fronts in disordered media that belong to the universality class of wetting contact lines and planar tensile crack fronts. We derive from first principles their nonlinear equations of motion, using the generalized Griffith criterion for crack fronts and three standard mobility laws for contact lines. Then we study their roughness using the self-consistent expansion. When neglecting the irreversibility of fracture and wetting processes, we find a possible dynamic rough phase with a roughness exponent of ζ=1/2 and a dynamic exponent of z=2. When including the irreversibility, we conclude that the front propagation can become history dependent, and thus we consider the value ζ=1/2 as a lower bound for the roughness exponent. Interestingly, for propagating contact line in wetting, where irreversibility is weaker than in fracture, the experimental results are close to 0.5, while for fracture the reported values of 0.55-0.65 are higher.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number051601
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
StatePublished - 16 Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


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