A magnetic material mimics the gravity-defying stickiness of a gecko's footpads and, notably, the creature's ability to turn this property on and off.
Researchers led by Aránzazu del Campo at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, created an adhesive surface made of arrays of T-shaped micropillars coated with neodymium magnet particles. Applying a magnetic field to this surface bent the pillars and quickly turned off its stickiness. The reversible system works in wet and dry conditions, and it can be easily prepared and scaled up, the authors say.
Adv. Mater. http://doi.org/p8m (2013)
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Sticky surface switches on and off. Nature 504, 11 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/504011d