How Geckos Stick — New Find May Lead to New Glue

August 29, 2002 | Source: National Geographic News

A team of biologists and engineers has cracked the molecular secrets of the gecko’s unsurpassed sticking power, opening the door for engineers to fabricate prototypes of dry, adhesive microstructures that work even underwater or in a vacuum.

Copyright (c) 2000 Kellar Autumn

Copyright (c) 2000 Kellar Autumn

The gecko’s amazing climbing ability, the researchers found, depends on weak molecular attractive forces called van der Waals forces (electrodynamic forces that operate over very small distances but bond to nearly any material). These are generated by millions of hairs on their feat that are only about 200 nanometers wide.

News tip: Evan B.