Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Sticky questions tackled in gecko research

Abstract:
New paper on gecko adhesion system the latest development in the quest for 'gecko glue'

Sticky questions tackled in gecko research

Calgary, Canada | Posted on December 20th, 2007

Velcro, Superglue and Post-It Notes… Three things that started out as obscure inventions but are now indispensable for everyday life. So what will the next idea to stick with modern society look like" The answer may lie in the tiny toes of a humble lizard, according to a University of Calgary biologist who is trying to figure out how geckos can cling to virtually any surface, including glass.

"Unlike most creatures, geckos don't use sticky secretions to help them hang on, it's all due to the structure of their amazing skin," says professor Anthony Russell, one of the world's leading experts on the gecko family of lizards. "Figuring out how they are able to run across ceilings and walk up windows is remarkably complex but it is getting a lot of attention because of the possible technology it could yield."

The latest development in gekkotan adhesive research is a paper by Russell and U of C graduate student Megan Johnson published in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Zoology. It's one of the only studies to look at how a gecko's unique toe pads enable it to move through its natural habitat.

"Almost all of the research that has been done has looked at how geckos can walk on glass and other smooth surfaces, but of course their feet evolved for moving over very different surfaces, Russell said. "By looking at how they climb up rocks and other natural surfaces we are hoping to gain an even better understanding of their adhesive system because coping with rough and unpredictable terrain poses quite different problems than does smooth and even ones. This calls for examining both the animals and the terrain they use at the microscopic level."

Unlike tree frogs and many insects that use some form glue-like fluid to get a grip, geckos are dry danglers. Their fan-shaped, highly flexible feet enable them to get traction on a wide range of surfaces while moving or standing, either up, down, or upside down. This gravity-defying power lies in the tens to hundreds of thousands of hair-like structures, known as setae, on geckos' toe pads. In 2000, researchers demonstrated that the large surface area of setae allow the animals to take advantage of molecular-level attraction called van der Waals forces to stick to virtually any surface. More recently, it has been shown that friction is also involved, and that these animals use a whole bag of tricks to help them adjust to circumstances from moment to moment.

By looking at the rocky habitat of a southern African species of gecko, Russell and Johnson concluded that the setae likely evolved to give geckos traction on rugged surfaces, since only a small area of each toe pad may be able to find purchase in order to maintain grip.

"It's kind of like the tire of a car," Russell explains. "You have a large area of tread but at any moment in time, there's only a tiny portion that is actually in contact with the road, and you are depending on that to do the job in a variety of circumstances."

Researchers and corporations around the world are racing to create the first synthetic "gecko glue" and the U.S. military is leading the way in trying to create gecko-inspired robots that can scale any surface.

"The goal is to create a completely dry adhesive that doesn't leave any residue behind and will remain attached as long as you apply a load to it and can be re-used an unlimited number of times," Russell said. "Once we conquer how it works it could be reasonably cheap to manufacture and the possible uses are endless."

Russell says learning from how species are designed by nature to deal with environmental challenges provides key lessons for human innovations.

"This nano-technology has been around for over 50 million years and we are only just beginning to understand how it works," he said.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Grady Semmens
Senior Communications Manager – Research
University of Calgary
Phone: (403) 220-7722
Cell: (403) 651-2515
Email:

Copyright © University of Calgary

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Discoveries

How to power up graphene implants without frying cells: New analysis finds way to safely conduct heat from graphene to biological tissues September 30th, 2016

Nanosensors could help determine tumors’ ability to remodel tissue: Measuring enzyme levels could help doctors select appropriate treatments September 29th, 2016

Fighting cancer with sticky nanoparticles September 27th, 2016

Gold nanoparticles conjugated quercetin inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition, angiogenesis and invasiveness via EGFR/VEGFR-2 mediated pathway in breast cancer September 27th, 2016

Materials/Metamaterials

How to power up graphene implants without frying cells: New analysis finds way to safely conduct heat from graphene to biological tissues September 30th, 2016

Innovation in Nanotechnology is Focus of Symposium: Annual event brings international experts to Northwestern Oct. 6 September 29th, 2016

Cambrios at CEATEC - Japan 2016 September 29th, 2016

Picosun patents ALD nanolaminate to prevent electronics from overheating September 28th, 2016

Announcements

How to power up graphene implants without frying cells: New analysis finds way to safely conduct heat from graphene to biological tissues September 30th, 2016

Nanosensors could help determine tumors’ ability to remodel tissue: Measuring enzyme levels could help doctors select appropriate treatments September 29th, 2016

Innovation in Nanotechnology is Focus of Symposium: Annual event brings international experts to Northwestern Oct. 6 September 29th, 2016

Cambrios at CEATEC - Japan 2016 September 29th, 2016

Military

How to power up graphene implants without frying cells: New analysis finds way to safely conduct heat from graphene to biological tissues September 30th, 2016

Tattoo therapy could ease chronic disease: Rice-made nanoparticles tested at Baylor College of Medicine may help control autoimmune diseases September 23rd, 2016

Nano-lipid particles from edible ginger could improve drug delivery for colon cancer, study finds September 8th, 2016

3-D graphene has promise for bio applications: Rice University-led team welds nanoscale sheets to form tough, porous material September 7th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic