Geckskin                                                                                                                    Stilio Cutis


Tape from gecko feet? Well, not necessarily.  What is considered to be one of the smallest yet economical pads of tapes was actually inspired by the foot pads of geckos.  Claiming to support up to 700 pounds of weight, the fascination of the ability of reptiles to climb on ceilings and walls led to the conception of this light yet strong adhesive material.  It was at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where researchers Al Crosby and Duncan Irschick developed their new invention deemed ‘Geckskin’.  This biomimetic product wasn’t created overnight however.  It took Irschick, a functional morphologist, over two decades of studying geckos to understand the concept that many scientists could put their finger on.  It was not only from the setae, or microscopic hairs on the foot pads of geckos, but also the act of combining to its rigid tendons that made it so strong.  Therefore, to replicate this discovery into a product Crosby and Irschick created the multilayered pad from a soft layer of silicone that is woven into a more rigid layer creating its ability to hold so much weight.  Not only can it support a glass wall with only a portion the size of an index card, it can be pulled off without any remaining residue.  Although it has a few years to hit production mode, they have already started with their next project.  According to Irschick, “It shows the true integrative power of evolution for inspiring synthetic design”.

– PS

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