Contact Aging Enhances Adhesion of Micropatterned Silicone Adhesives to Glass Substrates

Abstract The transfer of biological concepts into synthetic micropatterned adhesives has recently enabled a new generation of switchable, reversible handling devices. Over the last two decades, many design principles have been explored that helped to understand the underlying mechanics and to optimize such adhesives for certain applications. An aspect that has been overlooked so far is the influence of longer hold times on the adhesive contacts. Exemplarily, the pull-off stress and work of separation of a micropatterned adhesive specimen are enhanced by factors 3 and 6, respectively, after 1000 min in contact with a glass substrate. In addition to such global measures, the increase of adhesion of all individual micropillars is analyzed. It is found that contact aging varied across the microarray, as it drastically depends on local conditions. Despite great differences on the micropillar scale, the adhesion of entire specimens increased with very similar power laws, as this is determined by the mean contact ageing of the individual structures. Overall, contact aging must be critically evaluated before using micropatterned adhesives, especially for long-term fixations and material combinations that are chemically attractive to each other.