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Rensselaer Research Review Spring 2007 * Feature Articles Awards & Grants Recent Patents Accolades
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Nanotube Adhesive Sticks Better Than a Gecko's Foot
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Nanotube Adhesive Sticks Better Than a Gecko's Foot"
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* Pulickel Ajayan
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Pulickel Ajayan, the Henry Burlage Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer
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Mimicking the agile gecko, with its uncanny ability to run up walls and across ceilings, has long been a goal of materials scientists.

By Amber Cleveland

Researchers at Rensselaer and the University of Akron have taken one sticky step in the right direction, creating synthetic “gecko tape” with four times the sticking power of the real thing.

In a paper published in the June 18–22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers describe a process for making polymer surfaces covered with carbon nanotube hairs. The nanotubes imitate the thousands of microscopic hairs on a gecko’s footpad, which form weak bonds with whatever surface the creature touches, allowing it to “unstick” itself simply by shifting its foot.

For the first time, the team has developed a prototype flexible patch that can stick and unstick repeatedly with properties better than the natural gecko foot. They fashioned their material into an adhesive tape that can be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including Teflon.

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