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Scientists Model Adhesion Tech After Gecko Feet

by News Staff / March 25, 2015

Geckos have a pretty cool talent: They can walk on walls, ceilings and pretty much anything horizontal or vertical, and it's all thanks to their sticky little feet -- something scientists from Germany's Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) have replicated.

The reason gecko feet are sticky is because they're covered in millions of microscopic hair-like projections called setae -- that temporarily bond with surfaces due to Van der Waals forces. That bond is broken when the lizard pulls its feet forward.

The scientists have replicated the setae in the form microscopic pillars, an array of which on the end of a tool can bond with many surfaces when an object needs to be picked up.

Such technology would come in handy in various types of manufacturing, where on current assembly lines, parts are robotically picked and placed using graspers (which can damage certain materials) or suction cups.