For many years, gecko feet have been a subject of interest. Their ability to scale walls and run across ceilings with seemingly no extra effort infers a sticky pad on their foot, but indeed the pad is not sticky. Researchers have shown that geckos can support up to 9 pounds with their four feet, a large task for a small animal. When they release their foot from the surface they are climbing on, a gecko rolls its' foot off rather than just picking it straight up, a factor that only peaked the interest and questions: How do geckos do this? Harnessing the ability to mimic this phenomenon could be a great innovation for many purposes. This mimicking of a natural phenomenon is sometimes referred to as biomimicry, or bioinspiration.
Studying the anatomy of gecko feet led to a new invention through bioinspiration: Geckskin. A biology professor here at UMass, Duncan Irschick discovered some of the properties of gecko feet that allow them to support their weight on any incline. He realized that the pads on their feet maximize contact with the substrate they are standing on, acting like a draped table cloth over a table. By coming into contact with every small ridge on a surface, and using materials like bathroom caulking, nylon, and fiber (more specifically, polydimethylsiloxane), Irschick and his team made a pad that mimicked the gecko adhesive pad. The pad and a synthetic tendon were formed, maximizing both stiffness and rotational freedom.
An incredible invention based on biology, a multi-purpose product, and some UMass pride.Source: http://www.umass.edu/researchnext/sticking-science
Posted by Steven Yu (3-C)