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A smart adhesive that ‘turns on’ at body temperature

By Chemical Engineering |

Scientists from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (Seoul; www.kist.re.kr) and Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST; Ulsan, both Sout Korea; www.unist.ac.kr), led by UNIST’s professor Hyunhyub Ko, have developed smart adhesive pads — in the form of flexible pressure sensors — inspired by the suction cups of octopus’ tentacles. The scientists said building adhesives usually requires laborious transfer of nano- and micro-ribbons of inorganic semiconductor materials onto polymer sheets. They were therefore searching for an easier way to produce those adhesives and octopus suction cups gave them the idea. Each suction cup in the octopus’ tentacles contains a cavity whose pressure is controlled by surrounding muscles, allowing for suction and release as desired. The scientists used the rubbery material polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) to create an array of microscale “suckers.” The suckers include pores that are coated with a thermally responsive polymer. The scientists discovered that the best way to mimic the functioning of octopus suction cups was by means of applied heat. The material’s microcavity pads enable excellent switchable adhesion in response to thermal stimuli. At room temperature,…
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