Directional adhesion of gecko-inspired angled microfiber arrays

Jongho Lee; Fearing, Ronald S.; Komvopoulos, Kyriakos
November 2008
Applied Physics Letters;11/10/2008, Vol. 93 Issue 19, p191910
Academic Journal
Arrays of angled microfibers with a gecko-inspired structure were fabricated from a stiff thermoplastic polymer (polypropylene) with elastic properties similar to those of β-keratin of natural setae. Friction experiments demonstrated that this fibrillar polymer surface exhibits directional adhesion. Sliding of clean glass surfaces against and along the microfiber direction without applying an external normal force produced an apparent shear stress of 0.1 and 4.5 N/cm2, respectively. This directional adhesion is interpreted in the context of a nonlinear elastic bending model of an angled beam. Shearing and normal contact experiments yielded further evidence of the anisotropic adhesion of the fibrillar polymer and revealed the occurrence of a pull-off (adhesive) force at the instant of surface detachment, unlike vertically aligned microfiber arrays of the same material that exhibited a zero pull-off force. The results of this study provide impetus for the design of gecko-inspired adhesives with angled structures that demonstrate directional adhesion against different material surfaces.


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