Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, June 02, 2003

"Gecko Tape"!

Humans may someday be able to scuttle up walls, scamper across ceilings, and scurry out windows with the agility of a startled gecko in the tropical night—thanks to a new adhesive tape that mimics the lizard's sticky feet.

"Geckoman is less than science fiction these days," said Andre Geim, a physicist at the University of Manchester, England, who is part of a team that overcame considerable engineering challenges to produce the first synthetic "gecko tape."

Since geckos have millions of these hairs on each foot, their combined adhesive force is hundreds of times greater than what is required for the gecko to hang from a ceiling by one foot.

Inspired by this biological design, Geim and his colleagues etched a plastic mold with a scanning electron microscope that they used to make little hair-like pillars for a 0.4 inch by 0.4 inch (1 centimeter by 1 centimeter) piece of tape.

Once they make the tape more durable and scale up the technology, Geim and colleagues calculate that a human could hang from a ceiling by one tape-covered palm.

"I think it is really exciting to see every step toward the design of an adhesive that can be as effective as a gecko," said Robert Full, a biologist at the University of California at Berkeley. "It shows the importance of biological inspiration."

Full is part of the team that discovered in 2000 the adhesive force of the hairs on the pads of gecko feet. He and his colleagues are also developing synthetic setae based on the biological design of the gecko.

< email | 6/02/2003 04:42:00 PM | link

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