Following a recent bioinspired paradigm, patterned surfaces can exhibit better adhesion than flat contacts. Previous studies have verified that finer contact structures give rise to higher adhesion forces. In this study, we report on the effect of the tip shape, which was varied systematically in fibrillar PDMS surfaces, produced by lithographic and soft-molding methods. For fiber radii between 2.5 and 25 microm, it is found that shape exerts a stronger effect on adhesion than size. The highest adhesion is measured for mushroom-like and spatular terminals, which attain adhesion values 30 times in excess of the flat controls and similar to a gecko toe. These results explain the shapes commonly found in biological systems, and help in the exploration of the parameter space for artificial attachment systems.
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