Switchable Underwater Adhesion by Deformable Cupped Microstructures

Abstract Switchable underwater adhesion can be useful for numerous applications, but is extremely challenging due to the presence of water at the contact interface. Here, deformable cupped microstructures (diameter typically 100 µm, rim thickness 5 µm) are reported that can switch between high (≈1 MPa) and low (<0.2 MPa) adhesion strength by adjusting the retraction velocity from 100 to 0.1 µm s–1. The velocity at which the switch occurs is determined by specific design parameters of the cupped microstructure, such as the cup width and angle. The results are compared with theoretical estimates of water penetration into the contact zone and expansion of the cup during retraction. This work paves the way for controlling wet adhesion on demand and may inspire further applications in smart adhesives.