Instantly switchable adhesion of bridged fibrillar adhesive via gecko-inspired detachment mechanism and its application to a transportation system†
Inspired by the exceptional climbing ability of gecko lizards, artificial fibrillar adhesives have been extensively studied over the last decade both experimentally and theoretically. Therefore, a new leap towards practical uses beyond the academic horizon is timely and highly anticipated. To this end, we present a fibrillar adhesive in the form of bridged micropillars and its application to a transportation system with the detachment mechanism inspired by the climbing behaviour of gecko lizards. The adhesive shows strong normal attachment (∼30 N cm−2) as well as easy and fast detachment within 0.5 s without involving complex dynamic mechanisms or specific stimulus-responsive materials. The fabrication of the bridged micropillars consists of replica moulding of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) micropillars, transfer of the PDMS precursor to the heads of the micropillars, and inverse placement on an inert Teflon-coated surface. Owing to the spontaneous interconnections of low viscosity PDMS precursor, bridged micropillars with a uniform capping nanomembrane (∼800 nm thickness) are formed over a large area. Interestingly, macroscopic adhesion in the normal direction can be immediately switched between on and off states by changing the two detachment modes of pulling and peeling, respectively. To prove the potential of the fibrillar adhesive for practical use, an automated transportation system is demonstrated for lifting and releasing a mass of stacked glass slides over 1000 cycles of attachment and detachment.