Improving controllable adhesion on both rough and smooth surfaces with a hybrid electrostatic/gecko-like adhesive

J R Soc Interface. 2014 Jan 22;11(93):20131089. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2013.1089. Print 2014 Apr 6.


This paper describes a novel, controllable adhesive that combines the benefits of electrostatic adhesives with gecko-like directional dry adhesives. When working in combination, the two technologies create a positive feedback cycle whose adhesion, depending on the surface type, is often greater than the sum of its parts. The directional dry adhesive brings the electrostatic adhesive closer to the surface, increasing its effect. Similarly, the electrostatic adhesion helps engage more of the directional dry adhesive fibrillar structures, particularly on rough surfaces. This paper presents the new hybrid adhesive's manufacturing process and compares its performance to three other adhesive technologies manufactured using a similar process: reinforced PDMS, electrostatic and directional dry adhesion. Tests were performed on a set of ceramic tiles with varying roughness to quantify its effect on shear adhesive force. The relative effectiveness of the hybrid adhesive increases as the surface roughness is increased. Experimental data are also presented for different substrate materials to demonstrate the enhanced performance achieved with the hybrid adhesive. Results show that the hybrid adhesive provides up to 5.1× greater adhesion than the electrostatic adhesive or directional dry adhesive technologies alone.

Keywords: adhesion; electrostatic; gecko; manipulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Lizards
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Static Electricity*