Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Gecko-Inspired TAPE

Researchers are working on the next great adhesive now, and they are borrowing the technology from Geckos. They've made prototype tape that's really strong. From an article from June of 2003:

Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Sticks It to Traditional Tape

Their prototype--which consists of an array of microfabricated polyimide hairs attached to a flexible base . . . --exhibits an adhesive force per hair that is comparable to that of a gecko foot-hair . . . Because the adhesive is dry, it can be attached and detached repeatedly . . . But the researchers' calculations show that if they had enough to cover a human palm (200 square centimeters or so), gecko tape could support the weight of an average person.

Now, in a more recent article from this month:

Scientists Unravel How Geckos Keep Their Sticky Feet Clean
"Self-cleaning in gecko setae may occur because it is energetically favorable for particles to be deposited on the surface rather than remain adhered to the spatulae," they write in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It turns out that if they make the adhesive fibers out of the right kinds of materials, they'll actually be self cleaning. It will be energetically favorable for dirt particles to stay on the surface and not on the adhesive!

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