Author(s): Vogel MJ, Steen PH, Vogel MJ, Steen PH, Vogel MJ, Steen PH, Vogel MJ, Steen PH
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Abstract Drawing inspiration from the adhesion abilities of a leaf beetle found in nature, we have engineered a switchable adhesion device. The device combines two concepts: The surface tension force from a large number of small liquid bridges can be significant (capillarity-based adhesion) and these contacts can be quickly made or broken with electronic control (switchable). The device grabs or releases a substrate in a fraction of a second via a low-voltage pulse that drives electroosmotic flow. Energy consumption is minimal because both the grabbed and released states are stable equilibria that persist with no energy added to the system. Notably, the device maintains the integrity of an array of hundreds to thousands of distinct interfaces during active reconfiguration from droplets to bridges and back, despite the natural tendency of the liquid toward coalescence. We demonstrate the scaling of adhesion strength with the inverse of liquid contact size. This suggests that strengths approaching those of permanent bonding adhesives are possible as feature size is scaled down. In addition, controllability is fast and efficient because the attachment time and required voltage also scale down favorably. The device features compact size, no solid moving parts, and is made of common materials.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Physical Chemistry & Biophysics