Adhesive 10 times stickier than gecko’s developed

October 15th, 2008 - 4:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) Researchers have successfully developed a gecko-inspired synthetic adhesive that is at least 10 times stronger than its natural counterpart. Liming Dai and colleagues from the University of Dayton constructed their adhesive out of two slightly different layers of multi-walled carbon nanotubes.

The lower layer is composed of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, while the upper segment - which comes into contact with the surface it is sticking to - is curly, like a mess of spaghetti, said a National Science Foundation release, based on a report by Zina Deretsky. The findings were reported in the October issue of Science.

The adhesive sticks best when it is pulled down parallel to the surface it is sticking to - this is called shear adhesion. This action arranges the tips of the curly nanotubes so they have maximum contact with the substrate, thereby maximising stickiness.

Pulling the adhesive off in a motion perpendicular to the substrate is much easier - at this angle the sticking force is ten times weaker.

This breakthrough, supported by the National Science Foundation, will have many technological applications.

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