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Concept: Adhesion


Creating surfaces capable of resisting liquid-mediated adhesion is extremely difficult due to the strong capillary forces that exist between surfaces. Land snails use this to adhere to and traverse across almost any type of solid surface of any orientation (horizontal, vertical or inverted), texture (smooth, rough or granular) or wetting property (hydrophilic or hydrophobic) via a layer of mucus. However, the wetting properties that enable snails to generate strong temporary attachment and the effectiveness of this adhesive locomotion on modern super-slippy superhydrophobic surfaces are unclear. Here we report that snail adhesion overcomes a wide range of these microscale and nanoscale topographically structured non-stick surfaces. For the one surface which we found to be snail resistant, we show that the effect is correlated with the wetting response of the surface to a weak surfactant. Our results elucidate some critical wetting factors for the design of anti-adhesive and bio-adhesion resistant surfaces.

Concepts: Liquid, Wetting, Surface tension, Surface, Adhesion, Snail, Land snail


In biomedicine, adhesives for hard and soft tissues are crucial for various clinical purposes. However, compared with that under dry conditions, adhesion performance in the presence of water or moisture is dramatically reduced. In this review, representative types of medical adhesives and the challenging aspects of wet adhesion are introduced. The adhesion mechanisms of marine mussels, sandcastle worms, and endoparasitic worms are described, and stemming from the insights gained, designs based on the chemistry of molecules like catechol and on coacervation and mechanical interlocking platforms are introduced in the viewpoint of translating these natural adhesion mechanisms into synthetic approaches.

Concepts: Water, Tissues, Liquid, Soft tissue, Adhesion


Adhesion to wet and dynamic surfaces, including biological tissues, is important in many fields but has proven to be extremely challenging. Existing adhesives are cytotoxic, adhere weakly to tissues, or cannot be used in wet environments. We report a bioinspired design for adhesives consisting of two layers: an adhesive surface and a dissipative matrix. The former adheres to the substrate by electrostatic interactions, covalent bonds, and physical interpenetration. The latter amplifies energy dissipation through hysteresis. The two layers synergistically lead to higher adhesion energies on wet surfaces as compared with those of existing adhesives. Adhesion occurs within minutes, independent of blood exposure and compatible with in vivo dynamic movements. This family of adhesives may be useful in many areas of application, including tissue adhesives, wound dressings, and tissue repair.

Concepts: Electron, Blood, Thermodynamics, Tissue, Adhesion, Adhesive, Dissipation


For adhering to three-dimensional (3D) surfaces or objects, current adhesion systems are limited by a fundamental trade-off between 3D surface conformability and high adhesion strength. This limitation arises from the need for a soft, mechanically compliant interface, which enables conformability to nonflat and irregularly shaped surfaces but significantly reduces the interfacial fracture strength. In this work, we overcome this trade-off with an adhesion-based soft-gripping system that exhibits enhanced fracture strength without sacrificing conformability to nonplanar 3D surfaces. Composed of a gecko-inspired elastomeric microfibrillar adhesive membrane supported by a pressure-controlled deformable gripper body, the proposed soft-gripping system controls the bonding strength by changing its internal pressure and exploiting the mechanics of interfacial equal load sharing. The soft adhesion system can use up to ∼26% of the maximum adhesion of the fibrillar membrane, which is 14× higher than the adhering membrane without load sharing. Our proposed load-sharing method suggests a paradigm for soft adhesion-based gripping and transfer-printing systems that achieves area scaling similar to that of a natural gecko footpad.

Concepts: Fracture, Materials science, Pressure, Surface, Object-oriented programming, Analytic geometry, Adhesion, Adhesive


Fabricated adhesives are demonstrated to support high loads while maintaining easy release on a variety of “real world” surfaces. These adhesives consist of simple elastomers and fabrics without nano or micron scale features, yet they surpass the adhesive force capacity of live Tokay geckos and can be scaled to large sizes.

Concepts: 2002 albums, Gecko, Polyurethane, Elastomer, Universe, Adhesion, Adhesive, Tokay gecko


Pressure-sensitive adhesives such as tapes become easily contaminated by dust particles. By contrast, animal adhesive pads are able to self-clean and can be reused millions of times over a lifetime with little reduction in adhesion. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying this ability are still unclear. Here we test in adhesive pads of stick insects (Carausius morosus) (1) whether self-cleaning is enhanced by the liquid pad secretion, and (2) whether alternating push-pull movements aid the removal of particles. We measured attachment forces of insect pads on glass after contamination with 10 µm polystyrene beads. While the amount of fluid present on the pad showed no effect on the pads' susceptibility to contamination, the recovery of adhesive forces after contamination was faster when higher fluid levels were present. However, this effect does not appear to be based on a faster rate of self-cleaning since the number of spheres deposited with each step did not increase with fluid level. Instead, the fluid may aid the recovery of adhesive forces by filling in the gaps between contaminating particles, similar to the fluid’s function on rough surfaces. Further, we found no evidence that an alternation of pushing and pulling movements, as found in natural steps, leads to a more efficient recovery of adhesion than repeated pulling slides.

Concepts: Insect, Liquid, Carausius morosus, Phasmatodea, Adhesion, Adhesive, Dust, A Lifetime


Tree frogs use adhesive toe pads for climbing on a variety of surfaces. They rely on wet adhesion, which is aided by the secretion of mucus. In nature, the pads will undoubtedly get contaminated regularly through usage, but appear to maintain their stickiness over time. Here, we show in two experiments that the toe pads of White’s tree frogs (Litoria caerulea) quickly recover from contamination through a self-cleaning mechanism. We compared adhesive forces prior to and after contamination of (1) the whole animal on a rotatable platform and (2) individual toe pads in restrained frogs mimicking individual steps using a motorised stage. In both cases, the adhesive forces recovered after a few steps but this took significantly longer in single toe pad experiments from restrained frogs, showing that use of the pads increases recovery. We propose that both shear movements and a ‘flushing’ effect of the secreted mucus play an important role in shedding particles/contaminants.

Concepts: Secretion, Adhesion, Frog, Frogs, Tree frog, Platform game, Australian Green Tree Frog


Recently, silver nanowires (AgNWs) have attracted considerable interest for their potential applications in flexible transparent conductive films (TCFs). One challenge for commercialization of AgNW-based TCF is low conductivity and stability caused by weak adhesion forces between AgNWs and substrate. Here, we report a highly bendable, conductive and transparent silver nanowire (AgNW) film, which was consisted of the underlying poly(diallyldimethyl-ammonium chloride) (PDDA) and AgNW composite bottom layer and a top layer-by-layer (LbL) assembled graphene oxide (GO) and PDDA over coating layer (OCL). We demonstrated that PDDA could increase the adhesion between AgNW and substrate to form a uniform AgNW network, and could also serve to improve the stability of GO OCL. Hence a highly bendable, conductive, and transparent AgNW-PDDA-GO composite TCF on a poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) substrate with Rs ≈ 10 Ω/sq and T ≈ 91% could be made by an all solution processable method under room temperature. In addition, our AgNW-PDDA-GO composite TCF is stable without degradation after the exposure to H2S gas or sonication.

Concepts: Nanowire, Carbon nanotube, Graphene, Solar cell, Hydrogen sulfide, Electrical conductivity, Film, Adhesion


We demonstrate the contactless generation of lipid nanotube networks by means of thermally induced migration of flat giant unilamellar vesicles (FGUVs), covering micro-scale areas on oxidized aluminum surfaces. A temperature gradient with a reach of 20 μm was generated using a focused IR laser, leading to a surface adhesion gradient, along which FGUVs could be relocated. We report on suitable lipid-substrate combinations, highlighting the critical importance of the electrostatic interactions between the engineered substrate and the membrane for reversible migration of intact vesicles.

Concepts: Electron, Surface, Differential geometry, Infrared, Adhesion, Microsoft Surface, Torus, Thermal


Water wetting and adhesion control on polymeric patterns are achieved by tuning the configuration of their surface’s structural characteristics from single to dual and triple length-scale. In particular, surfaces with combined micro-, submicrometer-,and nanoroughness are developed, using photolithographically structured SU-8 micro-pillars as substrates for the consecutive spray deposition of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) submicrometer particles and hydrophobically capped iron oxide colloidal nanoparticles. The PTFE particles alone or in combination with the nanoparticles render the SU-8 micropillars superhydrophobic. The water adhesion behaviour of the sprayed pillars is more complex since they can be tuned gradually from totally adhesive to completely non adhesive. The influence of the hierarchical geometrical features of the functionalized surfaces on this behaviour is discussed within the frame of the theory. Specially designed surfaces using the described technique are presented for selective drop deposition and evaporation. This simple method for liquid adhesion control on superhydrophobic surfaces can find various applications in the field of microfluidics, sensors, biotechnology, antifouling materials, etc.

Concepts: Water, Structure, Liquid, Wetting, Surface tension, Differential geometry, Analytic geometry, Adhesion