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Design and Fabrication of Gecko-Inspired Adhesives

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journal contribution
posted on 03.04.2012 by Kejia Jin, Yu Tian, Jeffrey S. Erickson, Jonathan Puthoff, Kellar Autumn, Noshir S. Pesika
Recently, there has been significant interest in developing dry adhesives mimicking the gecko adhesive system, which offers several advantages compared to conventional pressure-sensitive adhesives. Specifically, gecko adhesive pads have anisotropic adhesion properties; the adhesive pads (spatulae) stick strongly when sheared in one direction but are non-adherent when sheared in the opposite direction. This anisotropy property is attributed to the complex topography of the array of fine tilted and curved columnar structures (setae) that bear the spatulae. In this study, we present an easy, scalable method, relying on conventional and unconventional techniques, to incorporate tilt in the fabrication of synthetic polymer-based dry adhesives mimicking the gecko adhesive system, which provides anisotropic adhesion properties. We measured the anisotropic adhesion and friction properties of samples with various tilt angles to test the validity of a nanoscale tape-peeling model of spatular function. Consistent with the peel zone model, samples with lower tilt angles yielded larger adhesion forces. The tribological properties of the synthetic arrays were highly anisotropic, reminiscent of the frictional adhesion behavior of gecko setal arrays. When a 60° tilt sample was actuated in the gripping direction, a static adhesion strength of ∼1.4 N/cm2 and a static friction strength of ∼5.4 N/cm2 were obtained. In contrast, when the dry adhesive was actuated in the releasing direction, we measured an initial repulsive normal force and negligible friction.