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Interfacial Material Engineering: Conventional Surface Modification vs Bio-inspired Surface Patterning

Engineered interfacial layer plays important roles in the development of advanced materials and manufacturing processes at ever-smaller scales, where the adhesion and surface forces play the dominant roles in the materials assembly and packaging. Conventional adhesion technologies rely on surface modification and typically apply a thin layer of polymer adhesives to bond two surfaces together. Inspired by the superior adhesion power of biological organisms and armed with the new understandings of biological surfaces obtained at the micro and nano scales, materials and adhesives scientists and engineers have been developing biomimetic solutions for interfacial material engineering.  In this talk, I will present our recent understanding of such biological systems as gecko adhesive “hairy” foot pads and anti-adhesion surface of lotus leaves, research advances in the development of micro/nano-structured materials with multifunctional properties (hydro/oleophobicity, self-cleaning, electrical conductivity), and the recent exploration of using liquid crystal elastomer as a backing material to deliver switchable “on/off” adhesive properties for soft grippers.  

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