UA synthetic gecko foot-hairs leading to reusable adhesives

August 15, 2005

The interest of University of Akron polymer researchers in the fascinating ability of geckos to climb any surface and hang from just one toe soon could lead to advances in adhesives used in microelectronics and space applications.

The UA researchers are part of a team developing synthetic hairs from carbon nanotubes that have adhesion forces 200 times higher than those observed with gecko foot-hairs. The team includes Dr. Ali Dhinojwala, UA associate professor of polymer science; UA polymer graduate student Betul Yurdumakan; and Nachiket Raravikar and professor Pulickel Ajayan from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

The results of their work, titled “Synthetic gecko foot-hairs from multiwalled carbon nanotubes,” were recently published in the journal Chemical Communications. The paper can be found online at .

The research — funded by a four-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation — studies the powerful adhesion powers of geckos. The lizards' five-toed feet are covered with microscopic elastic hairs called setae. The ends of the setae split into spatulas, which come into contact with a surface and hold the feet in place.

“It is well known that insects such as beetles and reptiles such as geckos have evolved and developed this most effective adhesive system in order to survive,” Dhinojwala says. “The biological system in these creatures has perfected not only the mechanism to attach to steep vertical surfaces but also to detach at will.

“We already have strong adhesives that can support large forces, and we have weak adhesives such as sticky notes that can be used many times but are not strong enough to support large forces,” he adds. “It will be a challenge to figure out how to design an adhesive that can provide a strong attachment to support a large force but at the same time have the capability of detaching itself from the surface with ease.”

To achieve these objectives, the researchers are fabricating surface patterns to mimic the gecko's setae and spatulas, Dhinojwala explains. The structure is based on multiwalled carbon nanotubes constructed on polymer surfaces.

Dhinojwala says the research, which will continue with experiments with larger surface areas, could lead to improved, reusable dry adhesives that will have critical applications in microelectronics, information technology, robotics, space and other areas.

Source: University of Akron

Explore further: Spiders spin possible solution to 'sticky' problems

Related Stories

Spiders spin possible solution to 'sticky' problems

May 16, 2014

Researchers at The University of Akron are again spinning inspiration from spider silk—this time to create more efficient and stronger commercial and biomedical adhesives that could, for example, potentially attach tendons ...

Scientists trace gecko footprint, find clue to glue

August 25, 2011

Geckos' ability to scamper up walls with ease has long inspired scientists who study the fine keratin hairs on these creatures' footpads, believed responsible for the adhesion. Researchers at The University of Akron have ...

Spider silk glue inspires next-generation technology

July 22, 2011

( -- Water affects orb spider web glue differently than cobweb glue. Orb web glue reacts to humidity, but cobweb glue resists it. These findings by a University of Akron research team inspire the development of ...

Scientists untangle spider web stickiness

December 3, 2010

Ali Dhinojwala and Vasav Sahni consider themselves materials scientists, not biologists. They study surfaces, friction and adhesion. Nevertheless, they have discovered that understanding how nature makes things stick sometimes ...

Recommended for you

Most EU nations seek to bar GM crops

October 4, 2015

Nineteen of the 28 EU member states have applied to keep genetically modified crops out of all or part of their territory, the bloc's executive arm said Sunday, the deadline for opting out of new European legislation on GM ...

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.

Fusion reactors 'economically viable' say experts

October 2, 2015

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, and policy makers should start planning to build them as a replacement for conventional nuclear power stations, according ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.