2013 R&D 100 Winner
Shape memory polymer-based smart adhesive systemsTypical adhesives are irreversible liquid-based glues that often require oven curing. Synthetic “gecko” adhesives avoid the use of liquid by relying on non-covalent interactions between microfibers and substrates, but they are weak, expensive to make and is not scalable. Developers at General Motors Research & Development Center now offer a third option that doesn’t require liquids, but is reversible and strong. Shape memory polymer-based smart reversible adhesive systems are prepared by heating surfaces above their thermal transition temperature, making them soft. They are then pressed together and cooled to room temperature, forming a rigid adhesive joint at more than 600 N/cm2, twice that of “gecko” adhesive. When adhesion disassembly is needed, the joint is heated to above its thermal transition temperature again and a peeling force of less than 1 N/cm2 separates the materials. The heating that triggers the disassembly can be applied remotely via exposure to selective radio frequency waves or light.


General Motors R&D Center

Development Team

General Motors R&D Center's Shape memory polymer-based smart reversible adhesive systems development team (l-r): Tao Xie and Xingchen Xiao.


The Shape memory polymer-based smart reversible adhesive systems Development Team from General Motors R&D Center
Xingchen Xiao, Principal Developer
Tao Xie, Principal Developer