the money you’d save if you bought a roll of duct tape and could use it over
and over again without having to toss it in the garbage after one use.
Wall-climbing robots, bioadhesives, or other sticky substances can benefit
greatly from a recent discovery about the self-cleaning and reuse abilities of
a gecko’s foot hair by a University
of Akron graduate
student-researcher and his partners. Their work was published in Interface,
the Journal of the Royal Society.
sticky yet clean attribute of this discovery is the gecko toe pad and its
ability to repeatedly attach and detach to a surface.
Researchers Shihao Hu, a UA mechanical engineering student,
and biologist and recent UA graduate Stephanie Lopez-Chueng of Keiser University
in Tampa, Fla.,
and their team discovered that the clue to a dynamic self-cleaning mechanism in
gecko setae, or microscopic foot hair, is achieved through the hyperextension
of their toes.
analysis reveals that geckos have tiny sticky hairs on their toes called
setaes, and due to the attaching and detaching mechanism caused by the rolling
and peeling motion of their toes as they walk, they release the dirt particles
leaving their feet clean,” Hu says. “The dynamic hyperextension effect of its
natural toe peeling increases the speed of the cleaning to nearly twice as fast
as previously perceived.”
Partners in the study included Hu; Lopez-Chueng; Peter
Niewiarowski, UA professor of biology; and Zhenhai Xia, University of North Texas,
Materials Science and Engineering.
The findings, published in the article, “Dynamic
Self-Cleaning in Gecko Setae via Digital Hyperextension,” show that a
gecko-inspired adhesive can function under conditions where traditional
adhesives do not, possibly inspiring new applications in space or water
exploration tools or in common items like duct tape or other products that use
“Through biomimicry, a gecko-inspired adhesive can function
under conditions where traditional adhesives do not, such as in a vacuum, outer
space or under water,” Niewiarowski says. “More broadly, a gecko-inspired
adhesive would be able to bind materials together very strongly yet also
release very easily. Imagine a tape that binds things together securely like
duct tape yet can also be removed and reused over and over again like a post-it
adds that biomimicry design, required to develop the bioadhesive, “opened
up a world of collaborations between the biological sciences and other
sciences” through the University’s Integrated Bioscience program.
Source: University of Akron