Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021 - 27

Coatings Could Improve Traction on Slick Surfaces
Material for shoe bottoms could help prevent falls in icy or slippery conditions.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
nspired by kirigami, the Japanese art
of paper cutting, engineers have
designed a friction-boosting material
that could be used to coat the bottoms
of shoes, giving them a stronger grip on
ice and other slippery surfaces.
Kirigami, a variation of origami that
involves cutting paper as well as folding
it, was used to create the coating. Labo -
ratory tests showed that when people
wearing kirigami-coated shoes walked
on an icy surface, they generated more
friction than the uncoated shoes. In -
corporating this coating into shoes
could help prevent dangerous falls on
ice and other hazardous surfaces.
Some scientists have recently used kiri -
gami to develop new materials such as
bandages that stick more securely to
knees and other joints as well as sensors
that can be used to coat the skin of soft
robots and help them orient themselves
in space. In this case, the team applied
this approach to create intricate patterns
of spikes in a sheet of plastic or metal.
These sheets, applied to the sole of a
shoe, remain flat while the wearer is
standing but the spikes pop out during
the natural movement of walking.
The researchers created and tested sev -
eral different designs including repeating
patterns of spikes shaped like squares, triangles,
or curves. For each shape, they
also tested different sizes and arrangeI
ments
and they cut the patterns into both
plastic sheets and stainless steel. For each
of the designs, they measured the stiffness
and the angle at which the spikes
pop out when the material is stretched.
They also measured the friction generated
by each design on a variety of surfaces
including ice, wood, vinyl flooring,
and artificial turf. They found that all of
the designs boosted friction, with the
best results produced by a pattern of
concave curves. They then used the concave
curve coatings for tests with human
volunteers. They attached the coatings
Kirigami, a variation of origami that involves
cutting paper as well as folding it, was used to
create a friction-boosting material that could
be used to coat shoe bottoms, giving them a
stronger grip on ice and other slippery surfaces.
(Credit: Diemut Strebe)
Tech Briefs, August 2021
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Tech Briefs Magazine - August 2021

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