University of Cambridge > > Engineering - Mechanics Colloquia Research Seminars > New functional surfaces: from science to application

New functional surfaces: from science to application

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New surfaces and coatings can drastically improve the properties and applicability of materials. At INM , we develop and investigate new micro- and nanopatterned surfaces for diverse functionalities: low friction, adhesion, corrosion protection, anti-reflection, electric storage and combinations of these. Such surfaces either exhibit new chemistries or new topographies, sometimes on different hierarchical levels. This talk will summarize some of our developments by bridging the scientific principles with existing or emerging applications. Emphasis will be placed on the bio-inspired exploitation of judiciously designed surface protrusions, “fibrils” and other features on the micron scale (“gecko effect”); this allows fundamentally new degrees of freedom for mechanical and other surface functions to be created. We have investigated the contact mechanics of the gecko effect and, based on this, created numerous biomimetic micropatterned surfaces in the lab. It is found that many parameters govern the detachment behavior of such a dry adhesive: fibril size, shape, aspect ratio, humidity, viscoelasticity etc. Our current emphasis is on switchable adhesive surfaces, which have resulted in first robotic applications for pick-an-place systems. Our Gecomer® technology is now being extended to cover soft surfaces, e.g. skin. Besides robotics and sports, this opens up new opportunities for micropatterned functional surfaces in the biomedical field. Eduard Arzt is scientific director and chairman of INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken, Germany, and Professor for New Materials at Saarland University since 2007. He studied physics and mathematics at the Universities of Vienna and Leoben, Austria, and obtained his PhD in 1980. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University, UK, he joined the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, as a group leader in 1982. In 1990, he became institute director with a joint appointment as Professor of Metals Physics at the University of Stuttgart. He was visiting professor and researcher at Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang and has spent sabbaticals at the MIT and the University of California, Santa Barbara and San Diego. Arzt has received several awards, including the Max Planck Research Award (with W. D. Nix of Stanford University) and the Leibniz Prize, the highest German science award. In 2013, he was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant of the European Research Council. He is corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Science, and member of the German Academy of Science Leopoldina. The Institute for Scientific Information lists him as a highly cited materials scientist. His research interests range from metallic micro- and nanostructures and thin film mechanics to the micromechanics of biological systems and new bioinspired functional surfaces. Arzt is editor of the leading materials review journal, Progress in Materials Science.

This talk is part of the Engineering - Mechanics Colloquia Research Seminars series.

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