We’ve all probably had the thought at some point in our lives, whether watching the movies or reading an old comic: I want to climb a building, Spider-Man style. Just grab ahold of the brick and shoot right up a 90-degree angle.
Well, thanks to some new research into gecko feet, that day might not be too far off.
A biologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, along with a team of polymer scientists, have been studying how the sticky-toed lizards are able to grip and release surfaces without the benefit of a radioactive spider bite—and they believe they’ve finally figured it out.
The team has developed a device they call Geckskin, and the results are pretty impressive. The reusable prototype can hold a 42-inch television to a wall for an indefinite amount of time, then release with a gentle tug. No residue, no muss, and no fuss.
“Our Geckskin device is about 16 inches square, about the size of an index card, and can hold a maximum force of about 700 pounds while adhering to a smooth surface such as glass,” researcher Alfred Crosby told ZeeNews.
Now, all we have to do is convert this stuff into a suit, and let the crime fighting begin!
So, how does it work? The team created an adhesive with a soft pad woven into a stiff fabric to work from. The unique design allows the pad to “drape” over a surface to maximize contact. Mimicking the lizard foot even further, the weave includes a synthetic “tendon” that allows flexibility, but keeps the grip tight.
“It’s a concept that has not been considered in other design strategies and one that may open up new research avenues in gecko-like adhesion in the future,” Crosby said.
The coolest part? The pad is made from fairly cheap, everyday materials, so it shouldn’t be too expensive to mass produce once they perfect the design.