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Acta Biomater. 2008 Nov;4(6):1669-76. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2008.05.026. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

The effect of shape on the adhesion of fibrillar surfaces.

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Mechanical Engineering Department, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


Experimental data have demonstrated that mushroom-shaped fibrils adhere much better to smooth substrates than punch-shaped fibrils. We present a model that suggests that detachment processes for such fibrils are controlled by defects in the contact area that are confined to its outer edge. Stress analysis of the adhered fibril, carried out for both punch and mushroom shapes with and without friction, suggests that defects near the edge of the adhesion area are much more damaging to the pull-off strength in the case of the punch than for the mushroom. The simulations show that the punch has a higher driving force for extension of small edge defects compared with the mushroom adhesion. The ratio of the pull-off force for the mushroom to that of the punch can be predicted from these simulations to be much greater than 20 in the friction-free case, similar to the experimental value. In the case of sticking friction, a ratio of 14 can be deduced. Our analysis also offers a possible explanation for the evolution of asymmetric mushroom shapes (spatulae) in the adhesion organ of geckos.

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