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Langmuir. 2012 Aug 7;28(31):11527-34. doi: 10.1021/la301783q. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Friction and adhesion of gecko-inspired PDMS flaps on rough surfaces.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, United States.


Geckos have developed a unique hierarchical structure to maintain climbing ability on surfaces with different roughness, one of the extremely important parameters that affect the friction and adhesion forces between two surfaces. Although much attention has been paid on fabricating various structures that mimic the hierarchical structure of a gecko foot, yet no systematic effort, in experiment or theory, has been made to quantify the effect of surface roughness on the performance of the fabricated structures that mimic the hierarchical structure of geckos. Using a modified surface forces apparatus (SFA), we measured the adhesion and friction forces between microfabricated tilted PDMS flaps and optically smooth SiO(2) and rough SiO(2) surfaces created by plasma etching. Anisotropic adhesion and friction forces were measured when sliding the top glass surface along (+y) and against (-y) the tilted direction of the flaps. Increasing the surface roughness first increased the adhesion and friction forces measured between the flaps and the rough surface due to topological matching of the two surfaces but then led to a rapid decrease in both of these forces. Our results demonstrate that the surface roughness significantly affects the performance of gecko mimetic adhesives and that different surface textures can either increase or decrease the adhesion and friction forces of the fabricated adhesives.


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