Lizard Inspires New Adhesive Tape

Keep your eye on the shelves of your local hardware store, where you may be able to find new tape from an unlikely source: the gecko, reports The New York Times.

Geckos have millions of microscopic hairs on their toes, each with hundreds of tips that adhere to surfaces, with no residue left behind,” said Kellar Autumn, a biology professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. “Their hairs can stay attached indefinitely.”

Autumn and scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, were responsible for the research that enabled Mark Cutkosky, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, to develop a prototype for a tape based on gecko adhesion. The tape, which is reusable, was so strong, Autumn said, that when they tested it, he was able to stick his 50-pound, 8-year-old daughter to a window with it.

That was a little more than two years ago; there are now at least 50 patent applications pending in gecko-adhesion technology, Autumn said, and he holds several patents himself.

“Imagine hanging a picture on the wall with reusable gecko tape that doesn’t leave a residue or damage the wall – it’s like a thumbtack, but doesn’t leave a hole,” he said. “The technology is ready to move from research to development. I think we are no more than three to five years from the first commercial products.”

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