NASA Langley developed a method to apply soft lithography to mold microscale structures into the surface of polymer and composite parts. This technology provides an efficient means to fabricate microtopographical surface patterns or features. A polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), or similar elastomer, would incorporate a master pattern, which acts as a mold through which liquid resin material flows and hardens to create a rigid, inverse replica of the mold specific to its intended surface applications.
One application of the technology is to create super-hydrophobic surfaces that protect against contamination and fouling. Another application is to improve adhesion between two parts in adhesively bonded joints, which is of particular interest for composite parts where sanding could expose reinforcing fibers to degenerative environmental effects. Another use of the technology is to create surfaces that reduce drag in aerodynamic and hydrodynamic applications.