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  1. Kim, Tae-il (Ed.)
    Polymeric arrays of microrelief structures have a range of potential applications. For example, to influence wettability, to act as biologically inspired adhesives, to resist biofouling, and to play a role in the “feel” of an object during tactile interaction. Here, we investigate the damage to micropillar arrays comprising pillars of different modulus, spacing, diameter, and aspect ratio due to the sliding of a silicone cast of a human finger. The goal is to determine the effect of these parameters on the types of damage observed, including adhesive failure and ploughing of material from the finger onto the array. Our experiments point to four principal conclusions [1]. Aspect ratio is the dominant parameter in determining survivability through its effect on the bending stiffness of micropillars [2]. All else equal, micropillars with larger diameter are less susceptible to breakage and collapse [3]. The spacing of pillars in the array largely determines which type of adhesive failure occurs in non-surviving arrays [4]. Elastic modulus plays an important role in survivability. Clear evidence of elastic recovery was seen in the more flexible polymer and this recovery led to more instances of pristine survivability where the stiffer polymer tended to ablate PDMS. We developed amore »simple model to describe the observed bending of micropillars, based on the quasi-static mechanics of beam-columns, that indicated they experience forces ranging from 10 −4 –10 −7 N to deflect into adhesive contact. Taken together, results obtained using our framework should inform design considerations for microstructures intended to be handled by human users.« less
  2. Progress in the field of soft devices–that is, the types of haptic, robotic, and human-machine interfaces (HRHMIs) in which elastomers play a key role–has its basis in the science of polymeric materials and chemical synthesis. However, in examining the literature, it is found that most developments have been enabled by off-the-shelf materials used either alone or as components of physical blends and composites. A greater awareness of the methods of synthetic chemistry will accelerate the capabilities of HRHMIs. Conversely, an awareness of the applications sought by engineers working in this area may spark the development of new molecular designs and synthetic methodologies by chemists. Several applications of active, stimuli-responsive polymers, which have demonstrated or shown potential use in HRHMIs are highlighted. These materials share the fact that they are products of state-of-the-art synthetic techniques. The progress report is thus organized by the chemistry by which the materials are synthesized, including controlled radical polymerization, metal-mediated cross-coupling polymerization, ring-opening polymerization, various strategies for crosslinking, and hybrid approaches. These methods can afford polymers with multiple properties (i.e., conductivity, stimuli-responsiveness, self-healing, and degradable abilities, biocompatibility, adhesiveness, and mechanical robustness) that are of great interest to scientists and engineers concerned with soft devices for humanmore »interaction.« less