Soft and wet contact arises in a range of phenomena that spans many length and time scales, and includes landslides, aquaplaning of tires, wear of industrial bearings, ageing of synovial and cartilaginous joints, cell motion in blood vessels or microfluidic devices, and atomic-force or surface-force rheology. Therein, the coupling between boundary elasticity and confined viscous flow leads to a striking zoology of counterintuitive emergent effects. From the canonical situation of a free particle that can simultaneously sediment, slide, and roll in a viscous fluid, and near a soft wall, we study a range of novel inertial-like (despite the low-Reynolds-number flow) features, such as enhanced sedimentation, elastohydrodynamic bouncing, roll reversal, emergent lift and torque.
Thomas Salez is a CNRS research associate in the Aquitaine Waves and Matter Laboratory (LOMA) at University of Bordeaux, France, as well as an assistant professor at University of Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan. He obtained is PhD from ENS Paris, France, where he developed an experiment in the Kastler Brossel Laboratory to trap and cool down atomic Fermi mixtures near the absolute-zero temperature, in ultra-high vacuum. He then joined the Gulliver Laboratory at ESPCI Paris, France, where he studied theoretically the behavior of soft matter and fluids at the nanoscale, in close connection with experiments. In collaboration with a broad and interdisciplinary international network, he now investigates theoretically and experimentally the properties of amorphous condensed matter and biologically relevant systems in confinement and at interfaces, at the boundary between continuum mechanics and statistical physics. Besides, he currently teaches graduate courses on soft matter at ICFP, ENS Paris and at University of Bordeaux, as well as on statistical physics at Institut d’Optique Graduate School, France. Finally, he cofounded the MesoMat deep-tech startup company in Canada that aims at producing novel self-assembled mesoscopic materials and smart components for soft robotics and evolutive aeronautics.
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