In a recent study, we demonstrated that the pressurization of micro-fluidic features introduced in the subsurface of a soft polymer can be used to actively modify the magnitude of the adhesion to a harder counterface by changing its waviness or long wavelength undulations. In that case, both contacting surfaces had very smooth finishes with root-mean-square roughnesses of less than 20 nm. These values are far from those of many engineering surfaces, which usually have a naturally occurring roughness of between ten and a hundred times this value. In this work, we demonstrate that appropriate surface features, specifically relatively slender “fibrils”, can enhance the ability of a such a soft surface to adhere to a hard, but macroscopically rough, counterface, while still maintaining the possibility of switching the adhesion force from one level to another. Conversely, stiffer more conical surface features can suppress adhesion even against a smooth counterface. Examples of each form of topography can be found in the natural world.
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