Biologically Inspired Synthetic Gecko Adhesives
Ronald S. Fearing
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Geckos have the remarkable ability to run at any orientation on just about any smooth or rough, wet or dry, clean or dirty surface. The basis for geckos' adhesive properties is in the millions of micron-scale setae on each toe of the gecko form a self-cleaning dry adhesive. The tip of each seta consists of 100 to 1000 spatulae only 100 nanometers in diameter. Our interdisciplinary team of biologists and engineers has been working since 1998 developing models for how the natural nanostructures function in a hierachical combination of spatulae, spatular stalks, setal stalks, setal arrays, and toe mechanics, and developing nanofabrication processes which allow large arrays of hair patches to be economically fabricated.
Figure 1: Polypropylene microfiber synthetic gecko adhesive.
Figure 2: Example application of high friction gecko-inspired material: 1/18 scale model car with gecko tires on acrylic sheet.