Adhesion and sliding response of a biologically inspired fibrillar surface: Experimental observations

Haimin Yao, G. Della Rocca, P. R. Guduru, H. Gao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Inspired by the adhesion mechanisms of several animal species such as geckos, beetles and flies, several efforts in designing and fabricating surface engineering strategies have been made recently to mimic the adhesive and frictional behaviour of biological foot pads. An important feature of such biological adhesion systems is the ability to switch between strong attachment and easy detachment, which is crucial for animal locomotion. Recent investigations have suggested that such a 'switching' mechanism can be achieved by the elastic anisotropy of the attachment pad, which renders the magnitude of the detachment force to be direction dependent. This suggestion is supported by the observations that the fibres of the foot pads in geckos and insects are oriented at an angle to the base and that geckos curl their toes backwards (digital hyperextension) while detaching from a surface. One of the promising bio-inspired architectures developed recently is a film-terminated fibrillar PDMS surface; this structure was demonstrated to result in superior detachment force and energy dissipation compared with a bulk PDMS surface. In this investigation, the film-terminated fibrillar architecture is modified by tilting the fibres to make the surface vertically more compliant and elastically anisotropic. The directional detachment and the sliding resistance between the tilted fibrillar surfaces and a spherical glass lens are measured: both show significant directional anisotropy. It is argued that the anisotropy introduced by the tilted fibres and the deformation-induced change in the compliance of the fibre layer are responsible for the observed anisotropy in the detachment force.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-733
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anisotropic adhesion
  • Anisotropic friction
  • Fibrillar surface
  • Gecko adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering


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