Editor's Summary

19 July 2007

Geckos with Mussel

On the cover, a gecko clings to a mussel shell. This improbable scenario stems from a shared ability of these species to cling on to things. Geckos can adhere even to inverted surfaces, thanks to tiny hairs on their feet. But the grip is temporary, as rapid attachment and detachment are key to locomotion. It has proved difficult to make a synthetic that stays sticky over many cycles and there is another snag: a gecko's adhesion is much reduced under water. A new adhesive, called 'geckel', overcomes this sensitivity to water by combining gecko-type nanostructures with the chemical approach to underwater adhesion used by mussels. The resulting hybrid adhesive, made up of an array of tiny pillars coated with a polymer that mimics the wet adhesive proteins found in mussels, shows remarkable reversible adhesion over 1,000 cycles in both wet and dry conditions. This development could lead to reversible adhesives suited to a range of practical applications. Cover image by H. Lee, W. Lim and A. J. Kane

LetterA reversible wet/dry adhesive inspired by mussels and geckos

Haeshin Lee, Bruce P. Lee & Phillip B. Messersmith