Microfluidic Adhesion Induced by Subsurface Microstructures

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Science  12 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5848, pp. 258-261
DOI: 10.1126/science.1145839

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Natural adhesives in the feet of different arthropods and vertebrates show strong adhesion as well as excellent reusability. Whereas the hierarchical structures on the surface are known to have a substantial effect on adhesion, the role of subsurface structures such as the network of microchannels has not been studied. Inspired by these bioadhesives, we generated elastomeric layers with embedded air- or oil-filled microchannels. These adhesives showed remarkable enhancement of adhesion (∼30 times), which results from the crack-arresting properties of the microchannels, together with the surface stresses caused by the capillary force. The importance of the thickness of the adhesive layer, channel diameter, interchannel spacing, and vertical position within the adhesive has been examined for developing an optimal design of this microfluidic adhesive.

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