Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Sticks Your Stuff To The Wall, Can Be Removed Whenever You Want [VIDEO]

By Shweta Iyer on April 21, 2014 11:43 AM EDT

Gecko
A newly developed adhesive called Geckskin can hold whatever you'd like on the wall without nails or screws. (Photo: jpockele, CC BY 2.0)

Imagine how much easier our lives would be if we could use a glue to stick our paintings to the walls, or simply stick utensils to kitchen tiles or soap dishes to bathroom mirrors, with the ability to remove them whenever we wanted. We would completely eliminate the need to drill and nail such things to the wall. Such a glue could soon be available, according to inventors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who have made significant improvements to their previously developed miracle glue Geckskin.

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Inspired by the gecko's ability to scale many different surfaces, including glass, Geckskin can adhere to a variety of surfaces, and be removed as easily as a gecko's feet. For years, scientists have been fascinated by gecko feet, which have powerful adhesive properties. Geckskin is a reusable adhesive device that can hold hundreds of pounds of weight. The researchers describe their invention in a report in the current issue of Advanced Materials.

"Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie, and then moving it to a new location when you want, without the need for pesky holes in your painted wall," said Professor Al Crosby, who teaches polymer science and engineering at the university, in a press release.

While it was first developed only to work on glass, Crosby and other researchers have further developed its adherence properties to include other surfaces, including drywall and wood.

Most other gecko-like glues, use a concept derived from tiny, nanoscopic hairs found on gecko feet. But Geckskin is based on "drape adhesion", a concept derived from the gecko's integrated anatomical skin-tendon-bone system. According to Dan King, a polymer science researcher, it becomes a strong adhesive because of its ability to adapt to a surface "while still maximizing stiffness." The researchers created drape adhesion by combining soft elastomers and ultra-stiff fabrics such as glass or carbon fiber fabrics. By adjusting the inherent stiffness of these materials, Geckskin can be used for a variety of purposes.

The inventors showed Geckskin's strength by comparing the properties of three versions of Geckskin to a living Tokay gecko on several surfaces. One version of the Geckskin even surpassed the gecko's performance on all of the tested surfaces.

"The gecko's ability to stick to a variety of surfaces is critical for its survival," biology Professor Duncan Irschick said in the release, "but it's equally important to be able to release and re-stick whenever it wants. Geckskin displays the same ability on different commonly used surfaces, opening up great possibilities for new technologies in the home, office, or outdoors."

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