Movie: Relaxation of prestretch induces surface wrinkling in soft bi-layered systems. from Wrinkling instabilities in soft bilayered systems

Wrinkling phenomena control the surface morphology of many technical and biological systems. While primary wrinkling has been extensively studied—experimentally, analytically and computationally—higher order instabilities remain insufficiently understood, especially in systems with stiffness contrasts well below 100. Here, we use the model system of an elastomeric bilayer to experimentally characterize primary and secondary wrinkling at moderate stiffness contrasts. We systematically vary the film thickness and substrate prestretch to explore which parameters modulate the emergence of secondary instabilities including period-doubling, period-tripling and wrinkle-to-fold transitions. Our experiments suggest that period-doubling is the favourable secondary instability mode and that period-tripling can emerge under disturbed boundary conditions. High substrate prestretch can suppress period-doubling and primary wrinkles immediately transform into folds. We combine analytical models with computational simulations to predict the onset of primary wrinkling, the post-buckling behaviour, secondary bifurcations and the wrinkle-to-fold transition. Understanding the mechanisms of pattern selection and identifying the critical control parameters of wrinkling will allow us to fabricate smart surfaces with tuneable properties and to control undesired surface patterns like in the asthmatic airway.