Tunable Reversible Dry Adhesion of Elastomeric Post Enabled by Stiffness Tuning of Microfluidic LMPA Thin Film
AuthorStampfli, Patrick Ryan
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The goal of this study is to investigate the effects and underlying mechanisms of stiffness tuning on tunable reversible dry adhesion of an elastomeric post. This research introduces a novel device constructed out of a soft elastomer, polydemethylsiloxane (PDMS), with micro channels injected with low melting point alloy (LMPA) that can soften by applying a voltage. In contrast to traditional handling devices, such as metallic robot handlers, this soft gripper enables compliant manipulation of delicate fragile objects such as a thin glass slide. In this thesis, the design and fabrication of the elastomeric posts and the effects of three adhesion testing conditions will be presented. The first testing condition provided the baseline adhesion values that would be later referenced to certify adhesion reversibility. The second condition demonstrates the device’s ability to change adhesion forces on the spot, or dynamically. The third condition displays the ability of the device to maintain this adhesion change when activated and deactivated repeatedly. Theoretical Finite Element modeling provides insights indicating a maximum adhesion when varying one critical geometrical parameter, which was later confirmed with experiments. Experimental results prove the device’s capability of dynamically tunable reversible dry adhesion. This novel approach to tunable dry adhesion exhibits the feasibility of soft grippers that would not require complicated systems for activation but instead only need low power and simple circuitry, and thus have potential to function as effective soft gripping devices.