Shear adhesion strength of aligned electrospun nanofibers
Inspiration from nature such as insects’ foot hairs motivates scientists to fabricate nanoscale cylindrical solids that allow tens of millions of contact points per unit area with material substrates. In this paper, we present a simple yet robust method for fabricating directionally sensitive shear adhesive laminates. By using aligned electrospun nylon-6, we create dry adhesives, as a succession of our previous work on measuring adhesion energies between two single free-standing electrospun polymer fibers in cross-cylinder geometry, randomly oriented membranes and substrate, and peel forces between aligned fibers and substrate. The synthetic aligned cylindrical solids in this study are electrically insulating and show a maximal Mode II shear adhesion strength of 27 N/cm2 on a glass slide. This measured value, for the purpose of comparison, is 270% of that reported from gecko feet. The Mode II shear adhesion strength, based on a commonly known “dead-weight” test, is 97-fold greater than the Mode I (normal) adhesion strength of the same. The data indicate a strong shear binding on and easy normal lifting off. Anisotropic adhesion (Mode II/Mode I) is pronounced. The size and surface boundary effects, crystallinity, and bending stiffness of fibers are used to understand these electrospun nanofibers, which vastly differ from otherwise known adhesive technologies. The anisotropic strength distribution is attributed to a decreasing fiber diameter and an optimized laminate thickness, which, in turn, influences the bending stiffness and solid-state “wettability” of points of contact between nanofibers and surface asperities.