Tunable Dry Adhesion of Soft Hollow Pillars through Sidewall Buckling under Low Pressure

Guangchao Wan, Yanbing Tang, Kevin T. Turner, Teng Zhang, Wanliang Shan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Controlling adhesion on demand is essential for many manufacturing and assembly processes such as microtransfer printing. Among various strategies, pneumatics-controlled switchable adhesion is efficient and robust but currently still suffers from challenges in miniaturization and high energy cost. In this paper, a novel way to achieve tunable adhesion using low pressure by inducing sidewall buckling in soft hollow pillars (SHPs) is introduced. It is shown that the dry adhesion of these SHPs can be changed by more than two orders of magnitude (up to 151×) using low activating pressure (≈−10 or ≈20 kPa). Large enough negative pressure triggers sidewall buckling while positive pressure induces sidewall bulging, both of which can significantly change stress distribution at the bottom surface to facilitate crack initiation and reduce adhesion therein. It is shown that a single SHP can be activated by a micropump to manipulate various lightweight objects with different curvatures and surface textures. Here, it is also demonstrated that an array of SHPs can realize selective pick-and-place of an array of objects. These demonstrations illustrate the robustness, simplicity, and versatility of these SHPs with highly tunable dry adhesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2209905
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023


  • low pressure
  • shell buckling
  • soft hollow pillars
  • tunable adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrochemistry
  • Biomaterials


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