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Suppose I have a two-layered material, with a stiff and thin outer layer (high E) and a soft (low E) and thick inner layer.

Intuitively, it feels like the effect of short-ranged forces (e.g., van der Waals or electrostatic) or small forces would be mostly restricted to the outermost layer, while the effect of longer-ranged forces (e.g., gravity) or larger forces would be seen by the softer layer underneath too. Is this intuition correct - i.e., does the force interaction range, or magnitude, or both, affect which layers dominate the mechanical response (contact radius/deflection etc.) in a bilayered structure?

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