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Thanks to special adhesive elements on their feet, geckos, spiders and beetles can easily run along ceilings or walls. The science of bionics has attempted to imitate and control such bio-inspired abilities for technological applications and the creation of artificial materials. A research team from Kiel University (CAU) has now succeeded in boosting the adhesive effect of a silicone material significantly. To do so, they combined two methods: First, they structured the surface on the micro scale based on the example of beetle feet, and thereafter treated it with plasma. In addition, they found out that the adhesiveness of the structured material changes drastically if it is bent to varying degrees. Among other areas of application, their results could apply to the development of tiny robots and gripping devices. They have been published in the latest editions of the scientific journals Advanced Materials and ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Elastic synthetic materials such as silicone elastomers are very popular in industry. They are flexible, re-usable, cheap and easy to produce. They are therefore used as seals, for insulation, and as corrosion protection. However, due to their low surface energy, they are hardly adhesive at all. This makes it difficult to paint silicone surfaces, for example.
Professor - Stanislav - N - Gorb - Emre
Professor Stanislav N. Gorb and Emre Kizilkan from the Functional Morphology and Biomechanics working group are researching how to improve the adhesive properties of silicone elastomers. Their example to mimic is the surface structure of certain male leaf beetles (Chrysomelidae), looking like mushrooms. In two recent studies, they discovered that silicone elastomers adhere best if their surface is modified into mushroom-like structures and thereafter specifically treated with plasma. The electrically-charged gas is a fourth state of matter alongside solids, liquids and gases. Thus, the researchers combined geometrical and chemical methods to imitate biology. In addition, they showed...
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