Micro-wedge array surface of a shape memory polymer as a reversible dry adhesive

John Seo, Jeffrey Eisenhaure, Seok Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A shape memory polymer (SMP) surface with geometrically asymmetric micro-wedge array is fabricated as a reversible directional dry adhesive through a double exposure angled lithography technique. The unique shape fixing and recovery properties of SMPs and surface microstructuring enable highly reversible adhesion strength upon thermo-mechanical loading. The tilted wedge geometry gives rise not only to its capability for varying adhesion strength based on loading direction, but also the reduction of strain energy input necessary to achieve contact area saturation with the opposing surface. To characterize the directional adhesion strength of the fabricated micro-wedge surface, adhesion tests are performed in the forward shear, backward shear, and normal directions based on the tilting direction of the micro-wedges. The adhesion strength is measured as a function of the applied preload for the three directions investigated, and is compared to a computational analysis by modeling the adhesive failure as the initiation of crack growth in linear elastic fracture mechanics. Additionally, reversibility is demonstrated by heating the micro-wedge surface above its Tg, allowing the structure to recover its original shape after being deformed, resulting in almost zero adhesion strength. The adhesion tests demonstrate that the forward shear direction is capable of adhesion strengths that are greater than that of the backward shear direction by a factor of over 3, confirming its capability for directional adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalExtreme Mechanics Letters
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Dry adhesives
  • Microstructured Surfaces
  • Reversible adhesion
  • Shape memory polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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