Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Tape Can Hold Up An Adult And Be Re-Used!

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The unassuming gecko - That tiny lizard that seems to scamper around any surface in gravity-defying positions, has intrigued scientists for many years. In the past, this amazing ability has been duplicated by researchers to create wall-scaling robots and now, a team of scientists from Germany has come up with a gecko inspired adhesive tape, that can be re-used thousands of times.

Not impressed? How about if we tell you that a small 20cm x 20cm square piece is strong enough to handle the weight of an adult. And, even more amazing is the fact that it can be stuck to any surface and even used underwater. The coolest thing is that unlike other strong adhesive tapes it leaves no residue, when ripped off!

The reason geckos and a few other insects can walk around on any wall in this magical fashion with no regard to the gravitational pull or surface material, is all to do with the thousands of tiny hairs called setae (pronounced see-tee) that cover their feet and legs. The end of each tiny hair is split further about a thousand times and at the bottom of each of them is a little suction-like flat surface called a spatula.

All these tiny hair, each with its own little spatula gives the gecko so much surface-area that when it comes in contact with any kind of surface the attraction between molecules known as Van der Waals forces, pulls on them, essentially allowing them to stick to any wall or ceiling. Thanks to the collective efforts of the hundreds of thousands of spatulae on the gecko's foot, the molecular traction is strong enough to allow the lizard to scurry around with no fear of falling. To detach themselves from the surface, they simply change the angle of the satae hair and off they come. The Van der Waals force, named after the Dutch scientist who first discovered it, is the same reason little drops of water adhere to the ceiling or to the side of a glass.

While scientist have known the secret behind these Spiderman-like abilities for some time now, finding a suitable material has been a challenge. Added to this was the issue of creating millions of satae-like hair that were flexible enough to stick to any kind of surface.

This silicon prototype invented by a team of scientists from the Zoological Institute at Germany's University of Kiel, is the first time researchers have been able to recreate the gecko's technique.

The only drawback to this amazing tape is that it is still just in experimental stages and may not be commercially available until the scientists figure out how to manufacture it at a reasonable cost - If they ever do, can you just imagine the fun applications it could have?

Resources: gizmag.com,dailymail.co.uk, news.discovery.com,

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280 Comments
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  • borntodance
    borntodanceFriday, January 27, 2012 at 12:58 pm
    I WANT THIS TAPE!!!!! Another drawback though is it can also be dangurous or used as a wepon. So sad.
    • melmoo
      melmooFriday, January 27, 2012 at 3:51 am
      that is so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)
      • Maddy D.Monday, January 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm
        i think it would be amazing if they stared selling this uniqe kind of tape. It would be awesome to walk on the celling like one of the geco's. it would also be better for the environment since you could reuse the tape it wouldn't be so wasteful.
        • fogo26
          fogo26Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 7:51 am
          that stuff is so strong
          • kyle at the tpsTuesday, January 17, 2012 at 10:49 am
            I have a lepard gecko.
            • maxThursday, January 12, 2012 at 4:04 pm
              i like how can have spider man powers with the gecko tape. what i don't like is that is has not come out yet. that is a real let downer. for me any ways. because if my mom knew about it she wouldn't let me use it for climbing.
              • jakeTuesday, January 10, 2012 at 4:46 pm
                that was cool
                • alexMonday, January 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm
                  i liked the snake it was so cool and big.
                  • saulMonday, January 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm
                    i liked the gecko it was awsome
                    • James L.Monday, January 9, 2012 at 6:16 pm
                      I think the gecko tape is really amazing, but I agree with Jennings. Is it really worth it to have something cool, and disturb an animal? Even if they cut off the spatulas and let the gecko go, The gecko would not be able to survive without its ability. I think the tape is bad. If the geckos grow back their spatulas, then forget what I said in this paragraph.
                      • rainfire314
                        rainfire314Friday, January 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm
                        I do not think they rip off the gecko's spatulas, i think they merely reproduced something a lot like the gecko's feet

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