Geckos are able to climb walls thanks to a coating on their toes of tiny hairs, called "setae," that are tipped with flat "spatulae." The large surface area of the spatulae exploit the van der Waals force, the weak attractive force between molecules, enabling the gecko's feet to stick. For years, scientists have worked on the development of synthetic adhesives inspired by this wonder of nature. Researchers at the University of Dayton and the Georgia Institute of Technology have now made an array of artificial setae that are actually nested carbon nanotubes. Eventually, the resarchers think the material could replace solder as well as more traditional adhesives. From New Scientist:
(The researchers) controlled the (carbon nanotube) growth process to make a forest of vertical nanotube trunks turning into a canopy of tangled ends on top. The curly entangled mess acts like natural spatulae – when pressed against a surface, they have a large contact area and hence a strong hold.
The new material was tested for stickiness on surfaces ranging from Teflon to sandpaper. Attached to a glass surface, a single square centimetre of it can support over 1600 grams when pulled roughly parallel to the surface.
That is roughly 10 times better than some species of gecko and three times better than the best artificial competitor.
But removing a pad of the material is simple, unlike some rival materials. Pulling it perpendicular to a surface means only the tips of the nanotubes remain in contact with the surface, and the setae will easily loosen their grip. A weight of 160 grams on a square centimetre is enough to do that.
"Gecko-grip material aims to be the end of glue
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]
In the world of app development, there’s no greater arena to find success than with Android users. About 80% of the smartphones in use today worldwide operate on the Android operating system, so if you build a great app that Android users love, you’re an international rock star. You’ll be able to make sure your […]
Unless you’re a programmer or webmaster, the term SQL probably doesn’t mean much to you. But for those looking to understand more about how and why the web works the way that it does, know this – SQL and its process of managing and presenting large data sets is everywhere…and it’s the most in-demand programming […]