Gecko Adhesive Mimic from Carbon Nanotubes

For the past several years the Gecko has fascinated materials scientist with its ability to scamper up vertical walls, and hold its body weight with a single toe. Research from the University of Akron has shown that we can create a 'mimic' of the gecko foot using carbon nanotubes, opening up new avenues for adhesives can greatly change the way we build, live, and work - just think of the sticky note.The Researchers include Dr. Ali Dhinojwala, UA associate professor of polymer science; UA polymer graduate student Betul Yurdumakan; and Nachiket Raravikar and professor Pulickel Ajayan from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. The results are attributed to funding from the NSF.

"It is well known that insects such as beetles and reptiles such as geckos have evolved and developed this most effective adhesive system in order to survive," Dhinojwala says. "The biological system in these creatures has perfected not only the mechanism to attach to steep vertical surfaces but also to detach at will.

"We already have strong adhesives that can support large forces, and we have weak adhesives such as sticky notes that can be used many times but are not strong enough to support large forces," he adds. "It will be a challenge to figure out how to design an adhesive that can provide a strong attachment to support a large force but at the same time have the capability of detaching itself from the surface with ease."

The evolution of adhesives in animals has led to a variety of solutions. We are just beginning to look around us and find the value that biology has to offer -we just have to know where to look and what to ask. The potential value of biomimics to help the environment is immense. While gecko 'glue' may not save the environment single handedly, the effort may provide a way to reduce use of toxic glues and industrial waste. It also open up new possibilities in materials manufacturing, and waits for creative individuals to make it in to something truly amazing ::U. Akron Press Release ::NSF Article