Researchers Create Gecko-inspired Dry Adhesives

Researchers Create Gecko-inspired Dry Adhesives

Researchers have developed a dry adhesive inspired by toe pads of geckos, enabling robots to defy gravity and climb steep inclines, according to a new research published on January 15, 2018.

Hemant Kumar Raut and Avinash Baji from Singapore University of Technology and Design created a dry adhesive with ultra-sticky properties that could be easily fabricated in large batches.

The researchers took inspiration from the unique properties of the toe pads of geckos, which allows them to attach and detach from surfaces. They studied the animal and realized that its toe pads are covered with bristle-like layers of a stiff keratin, which helps them to stick. Each pad of the toe is covered with microscopic pillars, which further branch out at the tips into even smaller structures.

The researchers then made use of nanoimprinting technique to build the web-like layers, further creating a dry adhesive with stiff polycarbonate.

Scientists have manufactured dry adhesives with similar properties in the past, however, the end result did not produce sticky surface as gecko toes. Some methods involve the use of layers, but the first layer is usually damaged as successive ones are applied.

The method used by these researchers to create the dry sticky adhesive is cost-effective, easy-to-perform, and is scalable. The team created a sacrificial layer over the first layer, which further dissolved away after application of the second layer. They tested the created adhesive, by repetitive attachment and detachment tests. The results showed that only 20 percent decline in stickiness after 50 cycles. This level of adhesion lasted for up to 200 cycles.

The team further placed the adhesive film on the feet of a miniature robot, which allowed the robot to move with ease up a 30-degree incline.

The demand for adhesives is rapidly increasing due to its increasing use in the construction and automotive industries, as elaborated in adhesives and sealants market report published by Coherent Market Insights.

The development of this sticky adhesive has potential applications in robotics and other emerging fields of application, further increasing the demand for adhesives on a whole.

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