London: Insects can scurry up walls, hang from ceilings and perform other acrobatic feats with remarkable ease. This has inspired scientists to come up with a mother of all adhesives that can be stuck and peeled off repeatedly without losing its sticking power.
The wall-scaling ability of insects lies in the growth of thousands of tiny hairs over their feet and legs, with flattened tips that can splay out to maximize contact on even rough surfaces.
The researchers fashioned a similar silicon tape, which turned out to be twice as hard to pull off a surface than a flat tape of the same material, according to a statement of the University of Kiel's Zoological Institute, Germany.
One team member even succeeded in dangling from the ceiling using a 20 by 20cm square piece of the new tape.
"The main issue for good adhesion is intimate contact with the substrate (surface)," explains Stanislav Gorb, who led the project.
"Due to multiple contacts points (hairs), they can build proper contact with almost any surface," adds Gorb from the Zoological Institute.
The tape can also work under water, leaves behind no sticky residues, and can be attached and detached repeatedly without losing its ability to grip.
Bio-inspired adhesives have many potential applications, from wall-climbing search robots to industrial pick-and-place machines.
These findings were presented at the AVS Symposium, in Nashville, Tennesse.
First Published: Sunday, November 06, 2011, 14:16