Irschick and Colleagues Lauded for "Top Science Breakthrough"

Geckskin, a super-strong adhesive device developed by Biology professor Duncan Irschick and his colleagues, has been named one of the top five science breakthroughs of 2012 by CNN Money.

Inspired by the footpads of geckos and able to fasten a 700 pound weight to a smooth wall, Geckskin was created by Irschick and polymer scientists Michael Bartlett and Alfred Crosby. Irschick has studied the gecko’s climbing and clinging abilities for more than twenty years. The researchers published their findings in Advanced Materials last February.

Previous efforts to synthesize the tremendous adhesive power of gecko feet and pads were based on the qualities of microscopic hairs called setae, but efforts to translate these qaulities to larger scales were unsuccessful, in part because the complexity of the entire gecko foot was not taken into account. A gecko’s foot has several interacting elements, including tendons, bones and skin, that work together to produce easily reversible adhesion.

Irschick, Bartlett, Crosby and the rest of the research team unlocked the simple yet elegant secret of how it’s done, to create a device that can handle very large weights. Geckskin and its supporting theory demonstrate that setae are not required for gecko-like performance, according to Crosby. “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.”

Read the CNN Money write-up.

View a video about Geckskin.

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