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A wet-tolerant adhesive patch inspired by protuberances in suction cups of octopi


Adhesion strategies that rely on mechanical interlocking or molecular attractions between surfaces can suffer when coming into contact with liquids1,2. Thus far, artificial wet and dry adhesives have included hierarchical mushroom-shaped or porous structures that allow suction or capillarity3,4,5,6, supramolecular structures comprising nanoparticles7, and chemistry-based attractants that use various protein polyelectrolytes8,9,10. However, it is challenging to develop adhesives that are simple to make and also perform well—and repeatedly—under both wet and dry conditions, while avoiding non-chemical contamination on the adhered surfaces11. Here we present an artificial, biologically inspired, reversible wet/dry adhesion system that is based on the dome-like protuberances found in the suction cups of octopi. To mimic the architecture of these protuberances12,13,14, we use a simple, solution-based, air-trap technique that involves fabricating a patterned structure as a polymeric master, and using it to produce a reversed architecture, without any sophisticated chemical syntheses or surface modifications. The micrometre-scale domes in our artificial adhesive enhance the suction stress. This octopus-inspired system exhibits strong, reversible, highly repeatable adhesion to silicon wafers, glass, and rough skin surfaces under various conditions (dry, moist, under water and under oil). To demonstrate a potential application, we also used our adhesive to transport a large silicon wafer in air and under water without any resulting surface contamination.

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Figure 1: A meniscus-controlled adhesive patch inspired by protuberances in the suction cups of octopi.
Figure 2: Measurements of adhesion forces for different architectures and different conditions, and use of the OIA adhesive for clean transportation under water.
Figure 3: Mechanisms underlying OIA attachment under wet conditions.
Figure 4: Adhesion strengths of OIA adhesives tested against pigskin.


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We acknowledge support from the National Research Foundation of Korea (grants NRF-2014R1A1A1007162 and NRF-2016H1A2A1908670). This research was partially supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project (grant HI17C1728), and by a grant from the Institute for Information and Communications Technology Promotion, funded by the Korea government (grant B0132-15-1003, ‘The development of skin adhesive patches for the monitoring and prediction of mental disorders’). S.H.B. was partially supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (grant NRF-2015R1C1A1A01055224). We thank D. G. Jo for animal experiments.

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Authors and Affiliations



S.B. and C.P. conceived the project. S.B., D.W.K. and Y.P. performed the wet and dry adhesion experiments. S.B., D.W.K., Y.P. and C.P. developed the experimental set-up for adhesion tests. S.B., S.H.B., T.-J.L. and C.P. designed the wound/adhesive experiments, and S.B., T.-J.L. and S.H.B. carried out these experiments. S.B., T.-J.L., S.H.B. and C.P. analysed the data. S.B., S.H.B. and C.P. wrote the paper, and all authors provided feedback.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Changhyun Pang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Reviewer Information Nature thanks G. Cotsarelis, F. Melchels, J. Wilker and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Fabrication of meniscus-assisted structures, and the underlying mechanism of a partial-wetting technique.

a, (i) Fabrication of perforated cylinders by a partial-wetting technique, and of OIAs by moulding from these perforated cylinders. (ii) Patterning of cylindrical pillars and holes without meniscus curvature on their top surfaces. b, Left three panels, underlying mechanism for the partial-wetting technique; right panel, a cross-sectional optical image of a perforated-cylinder structure. V0 is the initial volume; rh is the radius and H is the depth of hole-patterns; γ is the surface tension; θ is the contact angle between the liquid precursor and solid mould; Va is the volume of trapped air; Ra is the radius of curvature of trapped air. The force balance among gas, liquid, and solid interfaces owing to the capillary rise of a liquid precursor and a trapped air bubble in a solid hole-pattern can be controlled by the pump connected in a process chamber (see Supplementary Information for details).

Extended Data Figure 2 Adhesion strengths of OIA adhesives with differently sized features under wet and dry conditions.

ad, We fabricated s-PUA-based OIAs with three different radii: 15 μm, 50 μm or 150 μm. We tested their adhesion to silicon wafers using different preloads (10–35 kPa), in a, dry; b, moist; c, underwater; and d, under-oil conditions. Error bars represent standard deviations (N = 10).

Extended Data Figure 3 Fluorescence-assisted investigation of surface contamination when using commercial medical tape or our OIA adhesive.

a, The method for inspecting surface contamination, involving adhering a silicon wafer to our OIA adhesive or to commercial medical tape, detaching it, then dipping the wafer in FITC solution and blowing nitrogen gas over it three times in total. bd, Fluorescent microscopy images of silicon wafers, before attaching adhesives (b) and after attaching and detaching medical tape (c) or our OIA adhesive (d).

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Methods, Theory, 1 table, 14 figures and associated references. (PDF 6618 kb)

Application of Octopus-Protuberance-Inspired Adhesive

Example of an OIA adhesive pad (1.0 ×1.5 cm2; 50-μm radius) supporting a large-area, 8-inch wafer under water. The load could be easily detached with an effortless peeling-off technique. (MP4 13737 kb)

Example of clean transportation under water using an OIA adhesive pad

Example of clean transportation under water using an OIA adhesive pad (1.0×1.5cm2; 50-μm radius) (MP4 11505 kb)

Example of an OIA adhesive pad supporting a 0.5-kg weight in wet condition

Example of an OIA adhesive pad (1.0 ×1.5 cm2; 50-μm radius) supporting a 0.5-kg weight in wet condition. (MP4 7341 kb)

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Baik, S., Kim, D., Park, Y. et al. A wet-tolerant adhesive patch inspired by protuberances in suction cups of octopi. Nature 546, 396–400 (2017).

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