Nat Commun. 2022 Aug 6;13(1):4584. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-32257-5.
Developing underwater adhesives that can rapidly and reversibly switch the adhesion in wet conditions is important in various industrial and biomedical applications. Despite extensive progresses, the manifestation of underwater adhesion with rapid reversibility remains a big challenge. Here, we report a simple strategy that achieves strong underwater adhesion between two surfaces as well as rapid and reversible detachment in on-demand manner. Our approach leverages on the design of patterned hybrid wettability on surfaces that selectively creates a spatially confined integral air shell to preserve the water bridge in underwater environment. The overall adhesion strength can be multiplied by introducing multiple air shells and rapidly broken by disturbing the integrity of the protective air shell in response to the applied voltage on two surfaces. Our design can be constructed on the flexible substrate with hybrid wettability, which can be applied to non-conductive substrates and adapted to more complicated morphologies, extending the choice of underlying materials.