Switching (bio-) adhesion and friction in liquid by stimulus responsive polymer coatings

Yunlong Yu, Maria Brió Pérez, Cong Cao, Sissi de Beer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
90 Downloads (Pure)


Controlling (bio-) adhesion and friction is essential in many bio-medical and industrial applications. Such control can be achieved using stimulus responsive polymers. Coatings composed of these polymers are able to adapt their physicochemical properties to changes in the surrounding environment, such as temperature, light, pH, electronic and magnetic fields. This responsive behavior can be employed in the development of advanced technologies as for example underwater adhesives, self-adhering wound dressings, soft robotics and targeted drug delivery. In this review, we present an overview of the current status of research on controlling adhesion and friction in liquid environments using surface-bound stimulus responsive polymers. We focus in particular on polymer brushes and the role of specific interactions between the surfaces in the contact. These interactions can give rise to complex relations between swelling of the polymer film and its tribomechanical properties. A careful characterization of the change in specific interactions upon varying the environment is, therefore, critical for the design of effective smart coatings. We will finish this review with an overview of the open questions in the field and a discussion of the potential impact that the polymer-based smart adhesives and lubricants can have on industry and society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110298
JournalEuropean polymer journal
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Friction
  • Polymer brush
  • Polymer coating
  • Tribology control
  • (bio-) adhesion


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