Researchers have developed an artificial, biologically inspired, reversible wet/dry adhesion system that is based on the dome-like protuberances found in the suction cups of octopi. To mimic the architecture of these protuberances, they use a simple, solution-based, air-trap technique that involves fabricating a patterned structure as a polymeric master and using it to produce a reversed architecture, without any sophisticated chemical syntheses or surface modifications.

The micrometer-scale domes in the artificial adhesive enhance the suction stress. This octopus-inspired system exhibits strong, reversible, highly repeatable adhesion to silicon wafers, glass, and rough skin surfaces under various conditions (dry, moist, under water and under oil). To demonstrate a potential application, they also used an adhesive to transport a large silicon wafer in air and under water without any resulting surface contamination.

The adhesives might be useful when applied over skin or a wound and so partially assist with wound healing. The researchers are investigating stem-cell and drug-loading approaches to improve the adhesives' practical utility.