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Sticky Geckos

April 18, 2013

Researchers are learning what surfaces geckos stick to best.



What do geckos stick to?  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Science labs aren’t all about petri dishes and microscopes.  For instance, University of Akron biologist Alyssa Stark harnesses small lizards called geckos to a tether, and gently yanks them off various surfaces.  The tether’s attached to a force sensor.

ALYSSA STARK (University of Akron):

So we kind of are sliding them across the surface, and trying to measure the actual force it takes to make them slip. And our definition of slip is all four of their feet start sliding on that surface.

The lizards are interesting to scientists because they can run upside down on wet surfaces – so they’re strongly adhesive but easily detached.  Stark’s lab has found that generally, the more the surface itself repels water, the better the gecko sticks to it.  The results may help develop synthetic adhesives – from reusable underwater tape to internal bandages – that stick and release like gecko feet.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Researchers test the stickiness of gecko feet. (University of Akron)