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article imageScientists create 'Geckskin', can hold 700 pounds on wall

By Leigh Goessl     Feb 18, 2012 in Science
Amherst - Want to secure a heavy object to the wall, but ordinary adhesive tape doesn't make the grade and you do not want to put holes and anchored mounts in the walls to secure the item?
If all goes well a new product may be available in the near future.
Scientists have recently developed a device called "Geckskin." The invention's properties are mirrored after the 5-ounce gecko; gecko feet can "produce an adhesive force roughly equivalent to carrying nine pounds up a wall without slipping," said a Feb. 16 University of Massachusetts press release.
Using the gecko's attributes as a model, Geckskin can hold hundreds of pounds on a smooth wall say its developers. The gecko's remarkable sticking capability has puzzled scientists for years, but it appears the secret has been uncovered.
Doctoral candidate Michael Bartlett in Alfred Crosby's polymer science and engineering lab at UMass Amherst is the lead author of an article which outlines this heavy duty adhesive product.
Crosby says, "Our Geckskin device is about 16 inches square, about the size of an index card, and can hold a maximum force of about 700 pounds while adhering to a smooth surface such as glass."
Biologist Duncan Irschick, a functional morphologist who is very familiar with gecko's climbing and adhering qualities, also participated in the project. Irschick has been studying the gecko for over two decades.
"Amazingly, gecko feet can be applied and disengaged with ease, and with no sticky residue remaining on the surface," Irschick said.
The inventors say Geckskin offers a "tantalizing possibility" to be used to attach and detach heavy duty items, such as TVs, computers and other large items used in the home or business. Geckskin developers say this is a unique product not been achieved to date.
"It’s a concept that has not been considered in other design strategies and one that may open up new research avenues in gecko-like adhesion in the future," said Crosby.
Even better, the scientists say the device is reusable and leaves no residue on wall surfaces. They also say the adhesive pad of the Geckskin uses everyday materials in its makeup. Previous efforts to mirror the gecko's adhesive attributes were based primarily on the gecko's microscopic hairs on its toes, but the Geckskin developers say there's more involved -- tendons, bones and skin also play a role into creating the gecko's amazing capability to stick without fluids.
This project was supported by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through a subcontract to Draper Laboratories, and University of Massachusetts Amherst research funds.
The details of this discovery and creation are outlined in the publication Advanced Materials.
More about geckskin, university of massachusetts amherst, Gecko, Science, adhesion
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