A Bioinspired Wet/Dry Microfluidic Adhesive for Aqueous Environments
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Langmuir 26 (1): 521--525 (Jan 5, 2010)

A pressure-sensitive, nonreacting and nonfouling adhesive which can perform well both in air and underwater is very desirable because of its potential applications in various settings such as biomedical, marine, and automobile. Taking a clue from nature that many natural adhesive pads have complex structures underneath the outer adhesive layer, we have prepared thin elastic adhesive films with subsurface microstructures using PDMS (poly(dimethylsiloxane)) and investigated their performance underwater. The presence of embedded structure enhances the energy of adhesion considerably both in air and underwater. Furthermore, filling the channels with liquid of suitable surface tension modifies the internal stress profile, resulting into significant enhancement in adhesive performance. As this increase in adhesion is mediated by mechanics and not by surface chemistry, the presence of water does not alter its performance much. For the same reason, this adhesion mechanism works with both hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces. The adhesive can be reused because of its elastic surface. Moreover, unlike many other present-day adhesives, its performance does not decrease with time.
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