Nano Adhesive: Better Than a Gecko's Foot

AKRON, Ohio, May 17 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve created a nanotechnology-based adhesive that has four times the sticking power of a gecko’s feet.

Scientists from the University of Akron and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute said their process makes polymer surfaces covered with carbon nanotube hairs.

Led by Renselaer Professor Pulickel Ajayan and Akron Professor Ali Dhinojwala, the scientists said their prototype flexible patch can stick and unstick repeatedly with properties better than the natural gecko foot. They said they fashioned their material into an adhesive tape that can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including Teflon.

“Several people have tried to use carbon nanotube films and other fibrous structures as high-adhesive surfaces and to mimic gecko feet, but with limited success when it comes to realistic demonstrations of the stickiness and reversibility that one sees in gecko feet,” Ajayan said. “We have shown the patchy structures from micropatterned nanotubes are essential for this unique engineering feat to work.”

The scientists said their material could have a number of applications, including feet for wall-climbing robots; a dry, reversible adhesive in electronic devices; and outer space, where most adhesives don’t work because of the vacuum.

The study that included researchers Lijie Ci, Liehui Ge and Sunny Sethi appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Categorized | Engineering, Other
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