Adhesion, Seperation, & Triboluminescence


When two pieces of duct tape have the misfortune of meeting one another they rapidly tangle in a mire of adhesive forces – elastomers held in a suspension of viscous liquid flow between the two polyethylene coated cloth backs setting the stage for union.

As time passes the solvent evaporates and the pieces of tape are stuck together in a matrix of forces. The lengthy polymers become entangled, wrapping around one another in hooks and loops that lock the cloths into place. Electrons uneasily coalesce on long polar molecules leading to pockets of electric disagreement further pulling the polar molecules together with weak van der Waals forces. Adhesion melds these two separate piece of material together; their selfhood as individual entities residing in an imperceptible gum.

As time passes the pieces of tape are pulled antiparallel. When the adhesive joint is young and pliable it’s able to cope with these compulsions via deformation.

As time passes the forces overwhelm the joint and it strains, weakens, and cracks. The joint fails and the pieces of tape pull apart.

Curiously, blue light streaks out of the vacuum in between the separating pieces. Electrons mistakenly cling to adhesive left on its once partner. On the realization of this error they rapidly accelerate across the gap between the pieces, slamming into the backing, returning the kinetic energy as photons. Triboluminescence ends the processes of separation leaving a lasting impression.