Snapping Surfaces for Sensors and Adhesion Control

Primary Inventors: 
Description: 

This invention involves creating shape transition at responsive interfaces or surfaces by employing simple features such as shells, plates or columns, that are integrated into a material's surface or interface through simple processes of molding or self-assembly.  Upon application of a given stimulus (e.g. weight, light, chemical, thermal) the structures will spontaneously transform their shape due to the onset of elastic instability.  This instability is a "snap-through" event which induces the shape transition of the material surface.

Applications: 

The applied science that will result from this work can utilize the novel shape transition to serve several purposes. For example, it can cause the immediate de-bonding of a coating that is applied above these structures; it can activate an electrical signal to trigger a warning signal; it can change the reflectivity of a surface; or it can simply change the adhesion quality of a surface, among many other applications. Potential commercial uses include on-command release of coatings, chemical sensors for packaging or coatings, anti-fouling coatings, tunable adhesives, "smart" adhesives, true pressure-sensitive adhesives, and release strategies for tissue engineering.

Advantages: 

This invention has several key advantages for stimuli-responsive surface

  1. Sensitivity - the dimensions of the buckling structures and the residual stress built into the material surface can cause buckling to occur under a very small change in environmental conditions.
  2. Speed - an example of the spherical shell illustrated a transition that occurs within 0.01 seconds.
  3. Magnitude of change - the changes in adhesion or signal to noise for sensors can be very high due to the defined speed and force with which these buckling instabilities occur.
  4. Versatility - structures can be designed on several length scales, using a wide-variety of materials for a wide-range of applications.
  5. Ease of Development - processes already exist for covering surfaces with similar structures and new processes can be developed in a straightforward manner.
Licensing Status: 
Available for Licensing or research collaboration
Patent Status: 

Patent Pending - view published application

Docket: 
UMA 06-06
For More Information: 

Ling X. Shen, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Licensing Officer
Commercial Ventures & Intellectual Property
Phone: 413-545-5276
E-mail: lxshen@@research.umass.edu