Biomimicking interfacial fracture behavior of lizard tail autotomy with soft microinterlocking structures

Navajit S. Baban, Ajymurat Orozaliev, Christopher J. Stubbs, Yong Ak Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biological soft interfaces often exhibit complex microscale interlocking geometries to ensure sturdy and flexible connections. If needed, the interlocking can rapidly be released on demand leading to an abrupt decrease of interfacial adhesion. Here, inspired by lizard tail autotomy where such apparently tunable interfacial fracture behavior can be observed, we hypothesized an interlocking mechanism between the tail and body based on the muscle-actuated mushroom-shaped microinterlocks along the fracture planes. To mimic the fracture behavior of the lizard tail, we developed a soft bilayer patch that consisted of a dense array of soft hemispherical microstructures in the upper layer acting as mechanical interlocks with the counter body part. The bottom control layer contained a microchannel that allowed to deflect the upper layer when applying the negative pressure, thus mimicking muscle contraction. In the microinterlocked condition, the biomimetic tail demonstrated a 2.7-fold and a three-fold increase in adhesion strength and toughness, respectively, compared to the pneumatically released microinterlocks. Furthermore, as per the computational analysis, the subsurface microchannel in the control layer enabled augmented adhesion by rendering the interface more compliant as a dissipative matrix, decreasing contact opening and strain energy dissipation by 50%. The contrasting features between the microinterlocked and released cases demonstrated a highly tunable adhesion of our biomimetic soft patch. The potential applications of our study are expected in soft robotics and prosthetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number036002
JournalBioinspiration and Biomimetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022


  • cohesive zone modeling
  • lizard tail autotomy
  • microinterlocking
  • tunable adhesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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