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Water as a "glue" : Elasticity-enhanced wet attachment of biomimetic microcup structures

  • Octopus, clingfish, and larva use soft cups to attach to surfaces under water. Recently, various bioinspired cups have been engineered. However, the mechanisms of their attachment and detachment remain elusive. Using a novel microcup, fabricated by two-photon lithography, coupled with in situ pressure sensor and observation cameras, we reveal the detailed nature of its attachment/detachment under water. It involves elasticity-enhanced hydrodynamics generating “self-sealing” and high suction at the cup-substrate interface, converting water into “glue.” Detachment is mediated by seal breaking. Three distinct mechanisms of breaking are identified, including elastic buckling of the cup rim. A mathematical model describes the interplay between the attachment/detachment process, geometry, elasto-hydrodynamics, and cup retraction speed. If the speed is too slow, then the octopus cannot attach; if the tide is too gentle for the larva, then water cannot serve as a glue. The concept of “water glue” can innovate underwater transport and manufacturing strategies. Under-water soft cups form strong attachment with solid surfaces upon retraction by generating large transient suction.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Yue WangORCiD, Zhengwei LiORCiD, Mohamed ElhebearyORCiD, René HenselORCiD, Eduard ArztORCiD, M. Taher A. SaifORCiD
Parent Title (English):Science Advances
Year of first Publication:2022
Release Date:2022/05/24
Impact:14.972 (2021)
Funding Information:U.S. National Science Foundation grant NSF 193499
Groups:Funktionelle Mikrostrukturen
DDC classes:600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 600 Technik
Open Access:Open Access
Signature:INM 2022/039
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International