Surfaces inspired by geckos can be switched between adhesive and non-adhesive states, study finds

Apr 04, 2013
Surfaces inspired by geckos can be switched between adhesive and non-adhesive states
Credit: Mozul

Adhesives inspired by the gecko can be made to switch on and off reversibly and repeatedly. The key design parameters for these materials are identified in a study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface today.

use thread-like fibres on their hands and feet to stick to surfaces. Synthetic gecko-inspired adhesives rely on the same fibrillar structures. In both cases nonchemical adhesion is created by concentrating the between two bodies.

In 2007 researchers from the Leibniz Institute for New Materials, Germany created adhesive materials which could be switched on and off using differences in pressure. Now the same research group have shown precisely how to do this by adjusting the shape of the surface fibres.

Dr Paretkar and his team identified the key parameters that influence adhesion switchability; namely the fibrillar contact shape, radius, aspect ratio, orientation and the applied compressive load. They found that adding flap structures to the ends of the significantly enhanced how effectively adhesiveness could be switched on and off.

The synthetic adhesive materials are 'switched' on by pressing them against a surface and 'switched' off by increasing their pressure on the surface, which causes loss of adhesion.

The findings mean that new materials can be developed in which adhesiveness can be precisely controlled. This study was conducted using biocompatible material; if the same results can be repeated in then they could be used during delicate medical procedures in which small objects have to be moved around. These adhesive materials could also be scaled-up and used as fillers in operations such as repairing a damaged without the use of stitches.

Explore further: New process can convert human-generated waste into fuel in space

More information: Paretkar, D. et al. Preload responsive adhesion: effects of aspect ratio, tip shape, and alignment, Journal of the Royal Society Interface. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2013.0171

Related Stories

Scientists trace gecko footprint, find clue to glue

Aug 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 ...

Geckos keep firm grip in wet natural habitat

Apr 01, 2013

(Phys.org) —Geckos' ability to stick to trees and leaves during rainforest downpours has fascinated scientists for decades, leading a group of University of Akron researchers to solve the mystery.

Scientists create gecko-inspired bandage

Feb 18, 2008

MIT researchers and colleagues have created a waterproof adhesive bandage inspired by gecko lizards that may soon join sutures and staples as a basic operating room tool for patching up surgical wounds or ...

Copying geckos’ toes

Sep 05, 2011

Geckos are famous for their ability to walk up walls and scamper across ceilings. The dry-adhesive surface of geckos’ toes has inspired many attempts to copy this ability in an artificial material. Isabel ...

Recommended for you

Electronic switches on the molecular scale

23 hours ago

A molecular electronic switch is a junction created from individual molecules that can alternate between two or more stable states, making the switch act as a conductor or an insulator. These switches show ...

Mimicking photosynthesis with man-made leaves

23 hours ago

Scientists have long been trying to emulate the way in which plants harvest energy from the sun through photosynthesis. Plants are able to absorb photons from even weak sunlight using light antennae made ...

User comments : 0

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.