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Umass, Amherst researchers find ways to hold 300 kilograms of weight using sticky tape

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For years, Gecko feet have inspired scientists to develop material surface architecture that could be used as strong and yet reusable adhesives. Why Gecko feet attract scientists? Gecko precisely controls their movement and yet rapidly climbs any types of walls (surfaces).

According to the report appeared in the recent issue of Advanced Materials, researchers from University of Massachusetts, Amherst (USA) have shown that a hand-sized patch made of a thin elastomeric layer on a fabric of stiff carbon fibers could cling to a smooth glass surface while holding 300 kilograms of weight. Quite a remarkable sticky tape!

This study will allow researchers to understand how both natural and synthetic adhesive interfaces between two surfaces display the bonding strength and easy release. In other words, how nanoscopic features control the macroscopic systems. Authors of this study have developed a simple scaling theory where it described both natural and synthetic gecko-inspired adhesives, over 14 orders of magnitude in adhesive force capacity, from nanoscopic to macroscopic length scales.

Questions remain: could this adhesive patch be used in rough surfaces? If yes, when are we going to see its commercial applications?  


[Reference: M.D. Bartlett, A.B. Croll, D.R. King, B.M. Paret, D.J. Irschick, and A.J. Crosby; Advanced Materials, 24 (8), pp. 1078 – 1083 (2012). DOI: 10.1002/adma.201104191]