This work reports on repeatable adhesive materials prepared by controlled grafting of dangling hetero chains from polymer elastomers. The dangling chain elastomer system was prepared by grafting poly(n-butyl acrylate) (PBA) chains from prefunctionalized polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) elastomer networks using atom transfer radical polymerization. To study the effects of chain growth and network strain as they relate to network adhesion mechanics, various lengths of PBA chains with degree of polymerizations (DP) of 65, 281, 508, and 1200 were incorporated into the PDMS matrix. PBA chains with a DP value of 281 grafted from a flat PDMS substrate showed the highest (∼3.5-fold) enhancement of nano- and macroscale adhesion relative to a flat raw (ungrafted and not prefunctionalized) PDMS substrate. Moreover, to study the effect of PBA dangling chains on adhesion in fibrillar elastomer structures inspired by gecko foot hairs, a dip-transfer fabrication method was used to graft PBA chains with a DP value of 296 from the tip endings of mushroom-shaped PDMS micropillars. A PBA chain covered micropillar array showed macroscale adhesion enhancement up to ∼7 times relative to the flat ungrafted prefunctionalized PDMS control substrate, showing additional nonoptimized ∼2-fold adhesion enhancement due to fibrillar structuring and mushroom-shaped tip ending. These dangling hetero chains on elastomer micro-/nanofibrillar structures may provide a novel fabrication platform for multilength scale, repeatable, and high-strength fibrillar adhesives inspired by gecko foot hairs.
- atom transfer radical polymerization
- dangling chains
- repeatible adhesives