Oh, what a feeling - dancing on the ceiling!

Apr 05, 2006
Electron microscope image of a fly foot
Electron microscope image of a fly foot.

Ever wondered how flies are able to walk on the ceiling without falling off? Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart (Germany) are investigating this James Bond-style ability of insects to hang upside down from a ceiling. In the future such knowledge could lead to the design of tiny machines that mimic this phenomenon of nature.

The team led by Stanislav Gorb used optical sensors to measure the forces applied by each leg of a fly whilst walking freely on a smooth ceiling. They found that the best attachment force occurred when at least one leg from each side of the fly's body was in contact with the surface. These principles were then proven using artificial polymer tape to simulate the adhesive pads found on the feet of insects.

"Walking on a ceiling is very different from normal walking because the gravity tends to pull an inverted insect away instead of pressing it to the surface", explains Dr Gorb. "Our results, in combination with the knowledge on the microstructure of pads, provide important inspiration for mimicking locomotion of wall and ceiling walking machines, which use micropatterned polymer feet for generating adhesion".

Dr Gorb will be presenting his results at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology on Wednesday 5th April.

Source: Society for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Fear of losing money, not spending habits, affects investor risk tolerance, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sticky Tape Inspired by Insect Feet

Nov 05, 2007

Scientists have designed an extremely sticky patterned adhesive, which is twice as sticky as flat tapes used for similar purposes. The new glue-free adhesive can also stick to dusty surfaces better, can be ...

Beetle feet stick to their promises

Nov 03, 2006

Mushroom-shaped microhairs are the secret of a new adhesive material which scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, have developed. Inspired by the soles of beetles' ...

Hairy feet stick better to wet ceilings

Nov 09, 2005

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research show that humidity strengthens the adhesive force of the tiny hairs on gecko feet Now, for the first time, scientists from the Max Planck Institu ...

Recommended for you

F1000Research brings static research figures to life

13 hours ago

F1000Research today published new research from Bjorn Brembs, professor of neurogenetics at the Institute of Zoology, Universitaet Regensburg, in Germany, with a proof-of-concept figure allowing readers and reviewers to run ...

How science can beat the flawed metric that rules it

14 hours ago

In order to improve something, we need to be able to measure its quality. This is true in public policy, in commercial industries, and also in science. Like other fields, science has a growing need for quantitative ...

User comments : 0