The jolly boffins at BAE Systems have developed a material called Synthetic Gecko that grips incredibly tightly without glue or pressure. They claim that a 1 metre square sheet of the stuff could actually suspend a family car, which is interesting tech indeed if true. They’ve managed this feat of skill by mimicking the microscopic splayed suckers on the end of the tiny creature’s toes. Kinda creepy, but hey, useful no? Watch out for this stuff on training shoes maybe (or tyres?) as well as the usual BAE defence type things.
The gecko gets its ability to stick without glue from the soles of its feet which are patterned with millions of tiny hairs with split ends. At the tip of each split is a mushroom shaped cap less than one-thousandth of a millimetre across. These ensure the gecko’s toes are always in very close contact with the surface beneath – so close that molecular forces of attraction create the grip. The grip is released by a peeling action when the animal lifts its foot to break the bond.