University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists have created an adhesive device inspired by Geckos. The new Geckskin is reusable and can be used to stick objects on different types of surfaces such as metal and even glass.
“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving it to a new location when you want, without the need for pesky holes in your painted wall,” says polymer science and engineering professor Al Crosby. Geckskin is a ‘gecko-like,’ reusable adhesive device that they had previously demonstrated can hold heavy loads on smooth surfaces such as glass.
Several research groups have tried copying these hair-like projections on the lizards’ legs to create advanced adhesive systems. However, Crosby and colleagues’ Geckskin is modeled after a bone-tendon system, which makes it different from all other adhesive devices.
Unlike other gecko-like materials, the UMass Amherst invention does not rely on mimicking the tiny, nanoscopic hairs found on gecko feet, but rather builds on “draping adhesion,” which derives from the gecko’s integrated anatomical skin-tendon-bone system. “The key to making a strong adhesive connection is to conform to a surface while still maximizing stiffness,” Dan King, UMass Amherst researcher, said in a news release.
The Geckskin is made of soft elastomers and ultra-stiff fabrics such as glass. According to the researchers, they can use the stiffness of the material to create adhesive devices for different surfaces.
The team compared the performance of Geckskin with a living Tokay gecko on different surfaces. They found that their invention was better at sticking to a surface than the real lizard.
“The gecko’s ability to stick to a variety of surfaces is critical for its survival, but it’s equally important to be able to release and re-stick whenever it wants. Geckskin displays the same ability on different commonly used surfaces, opening up great possibilities for new technologies in the home, office or outdoors,” said Duncan Irschick, another researcher involved with the latest development of the Geckskin.
Image courtesy of University of Massachusetts Amherst.