When a thin film of soft elastic material comes in contact with an external surface, contact instability triggered by interaction forces, such as van der Waals, engenders topologically functionalized surfaces. Innumerable technological applications such as adhesives; microelecromechanical systems (MEMS), and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) demand understanding of the physics behind the mechanical contact, relationship between the morphologies, and detachment forces in such films. Indentation tests are important experimental approach toward this; there also exist many simulation procedures to model the mechanical contact. Both atomistic level and analytical continuum simulations are computationally expensive and are restricted by the domain geometries that can be handled by them. Polymeric films also particularly demonstrate a rich variety of nonlinear behavior that cannot be adequately captured by the aforementioned methods. In this chapter we show how finite element techniques can be utilized in crack opening and in contact-instability problems.
Part of the book: Perusal of the Finite Element Method