Nature, with its almost infinite genetic variety, has always been the source of inspiration for mankind’s technological research. We created machines that fly like birds and apparatus allowing us to breath underwater. In this constant quest to improve our lives, there is one animal which has now inspired the adhesive of the future: the gecko lizard.
NanoGriptech, a company formed by engineers from the University of Pittsburgh, has successfully managed to replicate the powerful forces of ‘adhesion by attraction’ generated by these little animals. It has just launched Setex, the first adhesive that works without glue, does not leave a residue, can be reused retaining 100% of its adhesive capacity, and completely adapts to any circumstances.
How does Setex work?
The secret of this revolutionary new material is found at nano level, where the researchers have come up with a peculiar surface geometry to imitate the characteristics of the feet of geckos. The adhesive pads on the feet of these little animals possess millions of tiny protrusions that interact electrostatically with the molecules of surfaces to which it wants to adhere, whether horizontally, vertically or even upside down.
In the adhesive developed by NanoGriptech, these miniature protrusions are simulated by polyurethane columns, which are covered with a kind of flat mushroom-like cap. Just a few square centimetres of this material is able to support hundreds of kilos of weight.
Uses for the gecko-inspired adhesive
Since Setex does not use a chemical adhesive, its applications list anything from dry gluing to supporting materials in contact with human skin, such as to fix in place prosthetics or safety helmets and clean room suits, etc.
As the University of Pittsburgh engineers who developed the technology explained: “This has opened the door to a future without biological leaks, where prosthetic limbs will be more comfortable, sportswear will offer higher performance, and many more applications.” This all thanks to the incredible feet of our little friend, the gecko lizard.