‘Crazy’ Tape Holds Weight of Man

Geckos inspire robots, but there’s no reason to limit one’s imagination. Why not use the fantastic properties of gecko feet to make something everyone needs: tape?

At the University of Kiel in Germany, a group led by Stanislav Gorb has made a silicone tape patterned after the feet of the lizard. Unlike your garden-variety scotch tape, this stuff is strong, it can be used over and over again, and it doesn’t leave sticky goo behind. In fact it is so strong a piece a bit less than 8 inches by 8 inches (20 cm on a side) can hold up the weight of a fully grown person.

How does this work? Geckos and some insects have tiny hair-like structures on their feet called setae, and each one end in a flat structure called a spatula. When they touch a surface, the attraction between molecules, known as the Van der Waals forces, pull on them and cause them to stick. This is the same force that makes water droplets stick to the ceiling or to the side of a glass — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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