Washington: A team of researchers has developed the first adhesive tape that does not only adhere to a surface as reliably as the toes of a gecko, but also possesses similar self-cleaning properties.
Using such a tape, food packagings or bandages might be opened and closed several times.
When moving forwards, the gecko`s toes drag across a part of the surface. As a result of this lateral friction contact, larger dirt particles are removed. Smaller particles deposit among the setae on the sole and in the skinfolds below.
In an experiment, the researchers of the KIT and the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh have proved that both mechanisms provide for 95 percent of the self-cleaning effect.
For their experiments, the scientists used elastic microhairs of variable size. Instead of dirt particles, they employed glass spheres of micrometer size (10-6 meters) and distributed them on a smooth plate.
To simulate the steps made by a gecko, they pressed an artificial adhesive tape covered by microhairs onto the plate, shifted it laterally, and lifted the tape off again. This "load-drag-unload" cycle was repeated several times. In parallel, adhesive force was measured.
The study was published in the `Interface` journal of the British Royal Society.