Friday, March 28, 2014

Gecko glue is a thing

KM, look away now. (Or don't; it's not like I'm posting pictures, but watch where you're going).

I don't know which part of this is #1 for awesome. I vote ALL of it.

A team of scientists at the University of Massachusetts has developed a new, reusable adhesive based on the feet of the gecko – the lizard that licks its own eyeballs and climbs up walls. Around 60% of gecko species have adhesive toe pads and these pads were the inspiration for Geckskin – a device that can attach and detach from materials and surfaces repeatedly.

Led by professor of polymer science and engineering Al Crosby and professor of biology Duncan Irschick, the team designed Geckskin for performance – you can suspend up to 700lbs in weight with it and it can be made from everyday items such as nylon, bathroom caulking, carbon fibre or cotton. Most things adhere to it and it adheres to most things – it's like flypaper for elephants.

Crosby and Irschick say it's not about making a new material but making old materials perform in new ways. Geckskin is detachable and attachable.

Did you know geckos lick their eyeballs?! (Oh my God - are they Japanese souls trapped in reptilian bodies? Is it racist of me to say so? Cancel! Cancel!) 

I don't know which idea I like more: 'flypaper for elephants' or 'geckskin'. Actually, no contest - if there must be an elephant in the room, I'd rather it was suspended from the ceiling and rotating gently and somehow invisibly. ('Geckglue' trumps 'geckskin' though I'd like suggestions for an even better name.)

Later, the article says: "A key property of certain types of gecko is the ability to attach to any surface, release at will and be able to hold a significant amount of weight." And it made me wonder what weights a gecko carries. Seriously. It's not as if they club a prey over the head, fling them over a shoulder and head off into the nearest cave. So what weights do they have to carry? Apart from their own body weight which, I imagine, the design takes care of to not count as 'significant'.

Anyone know?


??! said...

The insects they catch, I think. They attack anything upto the size of a mantis, which could be easily close to their own bodyweight.

And the bigger the catch, the slower they take to eat it, so they hold on to it, all while hanging onto walls and ceilings. Quite remarkable, really.

Space Bar said...

I guess. I've seen geckos eat moths whole, and those pretty large ones. Balancing on walls must take some glue.

km said...

Gee, thanks for the heads up. I didn't read the post.

But then you two had to talk about geckos eating moths whole?

Come on now.

Space Bar said...

km: :D I thought I told you to look away. Maybe you can begin to peep at geckos from between your fingers?