Dynamically Tunable Dry Adhesion through a Subsurface Thin Layer with Tunable Stiffness

Amir Mohammadi Nasab, Patrick Stampfli, Siavash Sharifi, Aoyi Luo, Kevin T. Turner, Wanliang Shan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Recently, a novel concept to realize dynamically tunable dry adhesion via subsurface stiffness modulation (SSM) in a composite core–shell structure has been introduced and demonstrated for gripping and release of objects. Here, a variant form of the composite core–shell design is proposed to significantly improve the performance of dynamically tunable dry adhesion in terms of activation time and activation voltage. Specifically, composite pillars with an embedded microfluidic channel filled with a low melting point alloy (LMPA) are fabricated, and the adhesion of the pillars is characterized as a function of LMPA state: either melted or solid. The effects of the thickness and in-plane pattern of the LMPA channel, as well as the depth at which it is embedded on tunable adhesion are investigated. Experiments show that the effective adhesion strength can be reduced up to 50%, equivalent to a 2× change in dry adhesion when the LMPA is melted. Finite element analysis of the stress distribution change under SSM shows that the experimentally observed tunable adhesion is primarily due to stiffness change close to the interface. In addition, two technology demonstrations of composite pillars picking and releasing objects with fast activation (≈1 s) and low activation voltages (≈1 V) are included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2102080
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 2 2022


  • dynamically tunable dry adhesion
  • low melting point alloy
  • subsurface stiffness modulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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