Switchable adhesion principle enables damage-free handling of sensitive devices even in vacuum – presentation at nano tech 2015 in Japan

Switchable adhesion principle enables damage-free handling of sensitive devices even in vacuum – presentation at nano tech 2015 in Japan

Components with highly sensitive surfaces are used in automotive, semiconductor and display technologies as well as for complex optical lens systems. During the production process, these parts are transferred in between many process steps. Each pick-up and release with conventional gripping systems involves the risk of either contamination of the surfaces with residues from transportation adhesives, or damaging due to mechanical gripping. Suction cup systems diminish residues, but fail in a vacuum or on rough surfaces. Researchers at the INM enhanced the Gecko adhesion principle such that adhesion can be switched on and off in vacuum.
The researchers from the INM will be presenting their new Gecomer® technology at the International Nanotechnology Exhibition and Conference nano tech 2015, Tokyo, Japan.

“Artificially produced microscopic pillars, so-called gecko structures, adhere to various items. By manipulating these pillars, the adhesion can be switched off. Thus, items can be lifted and quickly released,” explains Karsten Moh from the Program Division Functional Microstructures. “This technique is particularly interesting in vacuum, as suction cups fail here,” says Moh. Parts can, for example, be handled in a deposition chamber. With the currently developed adhesion system, objects with smooth surfaces can be lifted and released, having a weight of approximately 100 grams per square centimeter (ca.1.4 lbs per square inch).” In our test runs, the system has proved successful even after 100,000 runs”, says the upscaling expert Moh.

The development group is now working on the gripping of objects with rough or curved surfaces without leaving residues. “Then, we could also move glass lenses without damaging them in the production process,” says Moh. Therefore the investigators focus their work on testing the influence of different triggers like light, magnetic field, electric field or changes in temperature.
From January 28 to 30, the researchers of the INM will present this and further results at the German Pavilion, Booth 5J-21. At the German Pavilion, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) will concentrate the expertise of all German exhibitors at the nano tech Exhibition. The German Pavilion is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). An oral presentation on „Materials and Processing for functionalized Surfaces“. will take place at the Main Theater, Hall 5, on January 29, German Day.

INM conducts research and development to create new materials – for today, tomorrow and beyond. Chemists, physicists, biologists, materials scientists and engineers team up to focus on these essential questions: Which material properties are new, how can they be investigated and how can they be tailored for industrial applications in the future? Four research thrusts determine the current developments at INM: New materials for energy application, new concepts for medical surfaces, new surface materials for tribological applications and nano safety and nano bio. Research at INM is performed in three fields: Nanocomposite Technology, Interface Materials, and Bio Interfaces.
INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials, situated in Saarbruecken, is an internationally leading centre for materials research. It is an institute of the Leibniz Association and has about 195 employees.