Eduard Arzt awarded the highest European research prize
The materials scientist Professor Eduard Arzt, Scientific Director and Chairman of the INM — Leibniz Institute for New Materials, has been awarded an advanced grant of around € 2.5 million by the European Research Council (ERC). Over the next five years, he intends to use this to develop three-dimensional structures and surfaces whose functions can be switched on and off via external stimuli. The advanced grants of the ERC honour outstanding achievements of European scientists in pioneering research.
Whilst static adhesion systems for level hard surfaces have been subject to in-depth investigation for some time now, virtually no research has been conducted on the simulation of switchable adhesion or adhesion on soft surfaces. “Controlled adhesion and detachment — this is a well-known principle in nature. Geckos use it to move on smooth, rough, flexible or rigid substrates, on walls or even upside down. Their adhesive ability is based on very fine hairs on their feet known as fibrils,” explains the Scientific Director and Chairman at the INM. “With the ERC project, we are conducting research into a new generation of synthetic gecko structures. By changing the temperature or using electric fields or other external influences, it should be possible to switch adhesion on and off as required.
A second focus is on understanding how gecko structures can adhere to flexible surfaces - for example human skin. This principle is to be further developed for touch structures and biomedical applications. Ultimately, our aim is to demonstrate the feasibility of bio-inspired surfaces on a larger scale in order to provide a basis for cost-effective production,” Arzt explains.