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Microfabricated adhesive mimicking gecko foot-hair

Nature Materialsvolume 2pages461463 (2003) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The amazing climbing ability of geckos has attracted the interest of philosophers and scientists alike for centuries1,2,3. However, only in the past few years2,3 has progress been made in understanding the mechanism behind this ability, which relies on submicrometre keratin hairs covering the soles of geckos. Each hair produces a miniscule force ≈10−7 N (due to van der Waals and/or capillary interactions) but millions of hairs acting together create a formidable adhesion of ≈10 N cm−2: sufficient to keep geckos firmly on their feet, even when upside down on a glass ceiling. It is very tempting3 to create a new type of adhesive by mimicking the gecko mechanism. Here we report on a prototype of such 'gecko tape' made by microfabrication of dense arrays of flexible plastic pillars, the geometry of which is optimized to ensure their collective adhesion. Our approach shows a way to manufacture self-cleaning, re-attachable dry adhesives, although problems related to their durability and mass production are yet to be resolved.

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References

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    Aristotle Historia Animalium Book IX (trans. Thompson, D.A.W.) (Clarendon, Oxford, 1918); http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/history_anim.html.

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    Autumn, K. et al. Adhesive force of a single gecko foot-hair. Nature 405, 681–685 ( 2000).

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    Stork, N.E. Experimental analysis of adhesion of Chrysolina polita (Chrysomelidae: Coleoptera) on a variety of surfaces. J. Exp. Biol. 88, 91–107 ( 1980).

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    Schäffer, E., Thurn-Albrecht, T., Russell, T.P. & Steiner, U. Electrically induced structure formation and pattern transfer. Nature 403, 874–877 ( 2000).

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    Sekine, M. Dielectric film etching in semiconductor device manufacturing: Development of SiO2 etching and the next generation plasma reactor. Appl. Surf. Sci. 192, 270–298 ( 2002).

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) UK. S.V.D., A.A.Z. and S.Y.S. also acknowledge the financial support of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK

    • A. K. Geim
    • , S. V. Dubonos
    • , I. V. Grigorieva
    •  & K. S. Novoselov
  2. Institute for Microelectronics Technology, Chernogolovka, 142432, Russia

    • S. V. Dubonos
    • , A. A. Zhukov
    •  & S. Yu. Shapoval

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. K. Geim.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat917

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