Ever hoped for an adhesive tape that was so strong that it could suspend you from the ceiling? This adhesive is exactly what researchers from the University of Kiel in Germany have been developing, and they have turned to an unlikely source for their inspiration — geckos and insects.
Thanks to their biology these creatures are able to defy gravity, and it was this that researchers from the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel studied to develop their new dry adhesive tape. The tape is not only super-strong, but like the feet of a gecko. It is able to maintain its bonding strength even when it has been attached and detached thousands of times.
The thing that makes geckos so ‘sticky’ are the thousands of hairs, known as setae, that cover their limbs. These setae work with flattened tips to maximize contact on the roughest surface areas. These hairs make it possible for insects and lizards to counter the Van der Waals forces, which operate at a molecular level. It is this that allows them (and Spiderman) to run up and down walls and ceilings.
The Kiel team, led by Stanislav Gorb, have used the same method by covering their tape with thousands of tiny hairs. It has allowed them to create a super tape that requires at least two times the strength to pull off of a surface, as compared to a flat, hairless tape of the same material. As an added bonus, the gecko-tape leaves no sticky residue, can also work underwater, and can be reused thousands of times – so there’s no profit to be made on a commercial level.
The team presented their work at the AVS Symposium in Nashville last week.
Via Discovery News