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Geckos inspire 'super-adhesive' (Nature's glue stronger than human's design)
BBC ^ | July 26, 2006 | Staff

Posted on 07/26/2006 7:43:59 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger

Just one metre square of a new super-sticky material inspired by gecko feet could suspend the weight of an average family car, say its inventors.

The plastic, known as Synthetic Gecko, has been developed by researchers at aerospace and defence firm BAE Systems.

Like the reptile's foot, the polymer is covered in millions of tiny mushroom-like hairs that provide grip.

Future applications could include an adhesive to repair aircraft, skin grafts or even a Spiderman-style suit.

"It would mean that your local window cleaner could dispense with his ladders and climb up the side of your house," says Dr Sajad Haq a principle research scientist at the company's Advanced Technology Centre in Filton, Bristol.

"There's a whole host of applications. It's just a question of your imagination."

Tiny forces

Synthetic Gecko is not the first material to draw inspiration from the cold-blooded creatures.

In 2003, a team from the University of Manchester created a sticky tape based on a Gecko's foot.

The invention followed the discovery by US scientists of how geckos perform their extraordinary climbing feats.

The University of California team showed that the adhesion was due to very weak intermolecular forces produced by the billions of hair-like structures, known as setae, on each gecko foot.

The so-called van der Waals forces occur between molecules with different electrical charge and cause them to be attracted to one another.

The cumulative attractive force of billions of setae allows geckos to scurry up walls and even hang upside down on polished glass.

The grip is only released when the animal peels its foot off the surface.

The BAE team have created a material that mimics the gecko's setae. The adhesive is made of a polyamide, like Nylon, and is covered with millions of mushroom-shaped stalks.

Although the material has fantastic adhesive properties it does not feel "sticky".

"It's only when you press the material to the substrate that it actually sticks," says Dr Haq. "It's the molecular interaction that causes it to stick."

Optimal 'stickiness'

It is manufactured by a modified version of a technique known as photo-lithography, commonly used to make silicon chips.

The technique uses light to etch three-dimensional patterns into a material.

"The processes we use are modifications of standard electronic fabrication processes," says Dr Haq. "They're cheap, well known, well understood and can be scaled up to very large areas cheaply."

Previous attempts at making "gecko materials" relied on more intricate techniques such as electron-beam lithography, which is expensive and difficult to scale-up to produce vast quantities of the material.

So far, the team have manufactured several different materials with different sized mushrooms to try to optimise its "stickiness".

They have produced several samples up to 100mm in diameter which stick to almost any surface, including those covered in dirt.

However the team cannot quite match the performance of the nimble footed reptile.

"The material we have made so far will hold a family car to a roof, or an elephant if you wish" says Dr Haq. "We're not quite at the level of mimicking the sticking power of the gecko."


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: adhesive; gecko; geico; glue; superglue; zaq
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WOW.
1 posted on 07/26/2006 7:44:04 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
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To: DaveLoneRanger

2 posted on 07/26/2006 7:44:26 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("Good guys" aren't always "nice guys".)
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To: DaveLoneRanger
"I mean...asking a bloke if he wants a super strong adhesive is like asking 'im if he wants free pie & chips.
Of course he wants free pie & chips.
It's pie...and chips...for free."
3 posted on 07/26/2006 7:46:47 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

...and you can save up to 15% by switching from your adhesive to Gecko Glue.


4 posted on 07/26/2006 7:47:51 PM PDT by MilesVeritatis (War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things...." - John Stuart Mill)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

"It would mean that your local window cleaner could dispense with his ladders and climb up the side of your house,"

OSHA is gong to love this one!!!


5 posted on 07/26/2006 7:48:27 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Future applications could include an adhesive to repair aircraft, skin grafts or even a Spiderman-style suit.

I wants me a Spiderman suit!

6 posted on 07/26/2006 7:50:25 PM PDT by Drew68
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To: DaveLoneRanger

7 posted on 07/26/2006 7:53:23 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: Drew68

I be wantings a Super Flys suit.

Goes wiff my linclon nastigator.


8 posted on 07/26/2006 7:56:19 PM PDT by Hilltop
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Jeez! What's the big deal? It's just a little reptile! I mean, get a grip people!


9 posted on 07/26/2006 7:57:13 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy ("He hits me, he cries, he runs to the court and sues me.")
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Have they solved the problem of it picking up dust. I read that previous versions lost their stickiness very quickly.


10 posted on 07/26/2006 8:00:20 PM PDT by Retired Chemist
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To: DaveLoneRanger
Yesterday afternoon, I left work by my usual route. As I turned left on to the main road and picked up speed, I happened to check out my passenger's side window, and noticed that a wasp was hanging on to the glass. He (she?) must have been relaxing there before I even got in the car.

Anyway, I did what any animal lover would do: I sped up. 30. 40. 45. 50 mph, and this wasp was still hanging on doggedly. It's wings were flipping every which way. I kept on observing, and noticed that he was doing something. He had a plan, it seemed. He was slowly, carefully, picking up one foot at a time, and putting it down again in a different spot. After a minute or so the plan became clear. The wasp was positioning himself head-on into the wind (he had been pointing upward when I first noticed him.

Once he got himself oriented into the wind, he took off.

The thing that got me was how tenacious his hold on the glass was. I had just washed all the windows of my car the evening before, using a mild solution of dishwashing soap followed by water and lots of dry towel and elbow grease. Maybe that helped, but this wasp was able to hang onto that smooth glass at 50 or 55 mph, and reposition himself, by calm and deliberate movements.

I wonder if his adhesive feet use the same principle as the gecko?

(steely)

11 posted on 07/26/2006 8:05:16 PM PDT by Steely Tom
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To: Retired Chemist
Have they solved the problem of it picking up dust. I read that previous versions lost their stickiness very quickly.
From the article:

"They have produced several samples up to 100mm in diameter which stick to almost any surface, including those covered in dirt."
12 posted on 07/26/2006 8:06:03 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("Good guys" aren't always "nice guys".)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

And all this time I thought the little beggars were nothing but sleazy car-insurance salesmen.


13 posted on 07/26/2006 8:06:59 PM PDT by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Sadly, if Howard Dean took a bite of this stuff it might shut up the jaw but not the stupidity.


14 posted on 07/26/2006 8:15:14 PM PDT by quantim
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To: Steely Tom

Good question. I was helping clean out our pool today, and a wasp was in the water. Just like you, I love animals so much, I used a toy water ring to push the wasp down into the water. I'm still trying to figure out how the thing survived so long under water.

I'm in a war with wasps and bumble bees. Regular bees have never stung me (that I recall) and I recognize their role in nature, so I don't bother them. Wasps, hornets and bumble bees are another story, and they started the war. They die cruel and horrid deaths when they meet me. (My favorite method is to take a large, light, flat object like the lid of a Rubbermate tote, and smack them out of the air. It's like bumble baseball. Hit one about twenty feet away once!)


15 posted on 07/26/2006 8:16:13 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger ("Good guys" aren't always "nice guys".)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

And if removed would stick again?


16 posted on 07/26/2006 8:19:06 PM PDT by Retired Chemist
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To: DaveLoneRanger

I recently read about an algae that grows on rocks, I think in rivers mainly.

They said that it produces the strongest bond known in biology in order to stick onto the rocks.


17 posted on 07/26/2006 8:22:08 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: DaveLoneRanger
I gave you my last tube of Duco glue,
The kind that overflows
But instead of saving a sniff for me
You just jammed it in your nose

And now I'm stuck on you,
Stuck on you,
Stuck on you from sniffin' glue.
Nothin' that my heart can do
Cuz I'm stuck on you from sniffin' glue.

18 posted on 07/26/2006 8:25:21 PM PDT by SlowBoat407 (What is our exit strategy in the war on poverty?)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Slugs just get absolutely no respect. Just because they're ugly and slimey. Slug slime glued my kitty's mouth shut years ago; much to the delight of my husband.


19 posted on 07/26/2006 8:25:23 PM PDT by Chena (I'm not young enough to know everything.)
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To: DaveLoneRanger

Glue is good.

20 posted on 07/26/2006 8:26:53 PM PDT by SlowBoat407 (What is our exit strategy in the war on poverty?)
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