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Researchers Develop Strong, Removable Adhesive Based on Gecko Feet

by Shane McGlaun
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I’m not a big fan of lizards, they are gross, they try to bite you, and if you do catch a lizard, it will either poop on you or its tail will break off. Getting left holding a dismembered lizard tail is one of the more unsettling experiences in life. For personal reasons, I also have issues with Geico, so geckos aren’t high on my list of favorite things. Some scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have created something really cool based on geckos, so I have more respect today for the googly-eyed lizards than I did yesterday.

gecko_adhesive_holds_tv

In Alfred Crosby’s polymer science and engineering lab, doctoral candidate Michael Bartlett and team were studying the feet of the gecko and the lizard’s impressive natural ability to stick to surfaces that are completely smooth – even if those surfaces are angled upwards and backwards. According to the scientists, gecko’s feet have an adhesive force that’s equivalent to carrying 9 pounds up a wall without slipping. The real discovery was not that their feet use microscopic hairs to stick to things, but the unique design of their tendons, bones and skin also help create this reversible, but strong adhesion.

gecko_adhesive_properties

Learning from the design of the gecko’s tiny feet, the researchers came up with a 16-inch square of adhesive material that is insanely strong. That square can hold something weighing 700 pounds to a smooth glass surface without any problems. Even cooler than that, whatever you stick to the wall with that square can be easily removed, placed back on the surface again, and no residue is left behind. During testing, the researchers used the square to stick a 42-inch TV to a glass wall, which is what you see in the photo at the beginning of this article.

…not that I’m ready to trust this stuff to hang my big screen on the wall quite yet.

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