Components with highly sensitive surfaces are used in automotive, semiconductor and display technologies as well as for complex optical lens systems.
During the production process, these parts are transferred in between many process steps. Each pick-up and release with conventional gripping systems involves the risk of either contamination of the surfaces with residues from transportation adhesives, or damaging due to mechanical gripping. Suction cup systems diminish residues, but fail in a vacuum or on rough surfaces.
Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) enhanced the Gecko adhesion principle that adhesion can be switched on and off in vacuum. Artificially produced microscopic pillars, so-called gecko structures, adhere to various items. By bending these pillars, the adhesion can be switched off. Thus, items can be lifted and quickly released. This technique is particularly interesting in vacuum, as suction cups fail here