Scalable and continuous fabrication of bio-inspired dry adhesives with a thermosetting polymer†
Many research groups have developed unique micro/nano-structured dry adhesives by mimicking the foot of the gecko with the use of molding methods. Through these previous works, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) has been developed and become the most commonly used material for making artificial dry adhesives. The material properties of PDMS are well suited for making dry adhesives, such as conformal contacts with almost zero preload, low elastic moduli for stickiness, and easy cleaning with low surface energy. From a performance point of view, dry adhesives made with PDMS can be highly advantageous but are limited by its low productivity, as production takes an average of approximately two hours. Given the low productivity of PDMS, some research groups have developed dry adhesives using UV-curable materials, which are capable of continuous roll-to-roll production processes. However, UV-curable materials were too rigid to produce good adhesion. Thus, we established a PDMS continuous-production system to achieve good productivity and adhesion performance. We designed a thermal roll-imprinting lithography (TRL) system for the continuous production of PDMS microstructures by shortening the curing time by controlling the curing temperature (the production speed is up to 150 mm min−1). Dry adhesives composed of PDMS were fabricated continuously via the TRL system.