SBIR Phase II: Manufacturing of Bio-Inspired Polymer Micro/Nano-Fiber Arrays as New Gripping Materials
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project aims to develop a pilot-scale production system and process to enable the large-scale fabrication of continuous arrays of elastomeric micro/nano-scale fibers with complex geometry. Inspired by hairs that occur naturally on gecko feet, these micro/nano-scale elastomeric fibers demonstrate strong adhesive, shear, and peel strengths over a wide range of test substrates. Unlike other classes of adhesives such as pressure-sensitive tapes, these biologically-inspired adhesives can be repeatedly used over thousands of test cycles with very little contamination and performance degradation over the material lifespan. However, this class of material has only been able to be fabricated through expensive micro/nano fabrication processes including photolithography, chemical etching, or time-consuming batch micro/nano molding processes. In this project, a pilot-scale manufacturing system will be constructed, optimized and evaluated. A roller-based molding and peeling process for high-speed, continuous, and large-area manufacturing of high aspect-ratio and three-dimensional micro/nano-scale fibers with a compliant backing layer will be developed using elastomer materials. The broader/commercial impacts of this project will be the potential to provide a low-cost, high-volume process to mass produce continuous arrays of elastomeric micro/nano-scale fibers with complex geometry for applications in apparel, sporting equipment, healthcare, defense, industrial clamping, and consumer goods. These fibers will provide strong reversible adhesive or enhanced shear interfaces that are resistant to contamination and maintain their adhesive ability over the product lifespan.
Small Business Information at Submission:
91 43rd St., Suite 200 Pittsburgh, PA -
Number of Employees: