Scaling effects of wet adhesion in biological attachment systems

Acta Biomater. 2006 Jan;2(1):51-8. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2005.08.005. Epub 2005 Oct 7.


Insects have evolved fibrillar attachment devices based on wet adhesion to attach themselves to a variety of surfaces. This paper investigates the scaling effects of wet adhesion mediated by a liquid bridge between a fiber and a solid surface. The influences of liquid volume and contact angles are discussed via a scaling law indicating that the adhesive strength can be enhanced by contact size reduction. Due to the maximum negative pressure in the liquid bridge, there exists a critical length scale at which the system achieves the theoretical tensile strength of the liquid. We conclude that size reduction down to a critical scale results in optimization of the adhesive strength.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesiveness
  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Materials Testing
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Water


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Water