Abstract: Thin films bonded to compliant substrates often develop wrinkles when subjected to an applied or inherent compressive stress. This paper presents a bilayer model to account for surface effects on the wrinkling of ultrathin solid films. Assuming a surface layer of finite thickness, effects of surface properties on the critical strain, the equilibrium wavelength, and the wrinkle amplitude are discussed in comparison with conventional analysis. We apply this model to explain experimental observations of wrinkling in thin polymer films. The measured wrinkle wavelengths and amplitudes deviate from conventional analysis for ultrathin films with thickness less than 30 nm. The bilayer model provides a consistent understanding of the observed deviations, based on which a set of material properties for the surface and the bulk of the polymer films are deduced from the experimental data
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