Tailored polyurethane acrylate blend for large-scale and high-performance micropatterned dry adhesives

Continuous roll-to-roll fabrication is essential for transferring the idea of bio-inspired, fibrillar dry adhesives into large-scale, synthetic, high-performance adhesive tapes. Toward this aim, we investigated process parameters that allow us to control the morphology and the resulting adhesion of mushroom-shaped micropatterned surfaces. Flexible silicone templates enabled the replication process of the polyurethane acrylate pre-polymer involving UV-light-induced cross-linking. For this paper, we particularly tailored the polyurethane acrylate pre-polymer by adding chemical components to tune UV curing kinetics and to reduce oxygen inhibition of radicals. We found that higher intensities of the UV light and faster reaction kinetics improved the quality of the microstructures, i.e., a larger cap diameter of the mushroom tips was achieved. The polymer blend U6E4 exhibited the fastest curing kinetics, which resulted in a micromorphology similar to that of the Ni-shim master structures. Best adhesion results were obtained for adhesive tapes made from U6E4 with 116 kPa pull-off stress, 1.4 N cm−1 peel strength and 71 kPa shear strength. In addition, repeated attachment–detachment tests over 100,000 cycles demonstrated strong robustness and reusability.