Gecko-like glue is said to be stickiest yet

Thu Oct 9, 2008 3:47pm EDT
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A new type of dry glue designed to mimic gecko feet is 10 times stickier than the gravity-defying lizards, and three times stickier than other gecko-inspired glues, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

"It's the stickiest dry glue yet," said Liming Dai of the University of Dayton, who reported on the glue in the journal Science.

A 1-inch (2.5-cm) square of the adhesive can support the weight of a 220-pound (100-kg) man climbing up a vertical surface, but it can be easily lifted and reapplied, an ideal material for, say, a Spider-Man suit.

"That is not real. What we do is real," said Zhong Lin Wang of Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, referring to the comic book superhero's wall-climbing prowess.

Aside from helping people walk up walls, the glue could be used in electrical components without the need for soldering, Wang and Dai said in a telephone interview.

And because it is dry, it could be used at very low temperatures as in space, where more conventional glues lose their grip.

Like other gecko-inspired glues, the new glue uses a carpet of carbon nanotubes, thin filaments of carbon molecules. But attached to the ends of these filaments are curly strands of carbon that expand the surface area of the glue's gripping action.

This design matches the structure of real gecko feet, which have microscopic hairs that branch off in different directions.   Continued...

<p>A flying gecko is displayed during a live reptile exhibition in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, May 19, 2007. REUTERS/Nikolay Doychinov</p>