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26 March 2015 Switchable bio-inspired adhesives
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Abstract
Geckos have astonishing climbing abilities. They can adhere to almost any surface and can run on walls and even stick to ceilings. The extraordinary adhesion performance is caused by a combination of a complex surface pattern on their toes and the biomechanics of its movement. These biological dry adhesives have been intensely investigated during recent years because of the unique combination of adhesive properties. They provide high adhesion, allow for easy detachment, can be removed residue-free, and have self-cleaning properties. Many aspects have been successfully mimicked, leading to artificial, bio-inspired, patterned dry adhesives, and were addressed and in some aspects they even outperform the adhesion capabilities of geckos. However, designing artificial patterned adhesion systems with switchable adhesion remains a big challenge; the gecko’s adhesion system is based on a complex hierarchical surface structure and on advanced biomechanics, which are both difficult to mimic.

In this paper, two approaches are presented to achieve switchable adhesion. The first approach is based on a patterned polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) polymer, where adhesion can be switched on and off by applying a low and a high compressive preload. The switch in adhesion is caused by a reversible mechanical instability of the adhesive silicone structures. The second approach is based on a composite material consisting of a Nickel- Titanium (NiTi) shape memory alloy and a patterned adhesive PDMS layer. The NiTi alloy is trained to change its surface topography as a function of temperature, which results in a change of the contact area and of alignment of the adhesive pattern towards a substrate, leading to switchable adhesion. These examples show that the unique properties of bio-inspired adhesives can be greatly improved by new concepts such as mechanical instability or by the use of active materials which react to external stimuli.
© (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Elmar Kroner "Switchable bio-inspired adhesives", Proc. SPIE 9429, Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2015, 94290F (26 March 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2082925
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