Researchers say they have developed an adhesive that can stick stronger than the toes of geckos. The little lizard can dash up walls and hang from the ceiling by a single toe, thanks to microscopic hairs on the soles of its feet that latch onto nooks and crannies on surfaces.
A team of materials scientists (from the University of Dayton, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the University of Akron, and the Georgia Institute of Technology) report in Science today that they used carbon nanotubes (tiny tubes of carbon about 1/50,000th the width of a human hair) to model the shape of gecko microhairs (each hair is straight with a curly top).
Their resulting carbon adhesive was nearly 10 times stronger than those on gecko feet: a single dab easily held a three pound (1480 gram) book, but was still easy to peel off at the correct angle.
Seems geckos aren't the ones to copy when in pursuit of the perfect glue. Check out this ScientificAmerican.com story on a similar attempt to mimic the glorious gecko by making a plastic adhesive that could attach and detach repeatedly without losing its grip.
(Image from iStockphoto/Stephan Hoerold)