Spiderman, meet Gecko Guy. Ronald Fearing and his group at the University of California, Berkeley have engineered an adhesive material so sticky that a person clothed in a suit made of the stuff might actually be able to climb walls like the web-slinging comic book hero. The work was inspired by the gecko, which takes advantage of van der Waals forces—the cumulation of millions of molecular-level attractions—to keep its hair-covered feet stuck to sheer surfaces.
We’ve reported on gecko-inspired work before, but Fearing’s latest achievement is a big step towards getting more of these gecko-gadgets out of the lab and into the world.
One postage-stamp-sized square of the material contains about 84 million tiny plastic hairs, and can support a pound of weight. In the long run, the tape could be used for anything from a surgical dressing to gravity-replicating space slippers.
Via SF Gate
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.