Science-- there's something for everyone

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sticking with natural inspiration

Scientists often turn to nature for inspiration.  A case in point comes from researchers from the University of Kiel, Germany, who developed a novel adhesive based on an insect model.  Their new type of tape was presented at the AVS 58th International Symposium & Exhibition.

Many insects use thousands of tiny hairs on their feet to climb up walls.  These minute hairs are able to make tight contact with almost any type of surface, even under water, and stick to that surface.  The University of Kiel researchers created their own version of hairy feet, namely a silicone tape covered with tiny hairs.  Like the original, their tape works when wet, leaves no sticky residue, and is completely reusable.  It’s also strong enough to suspend a scientist from the ceiling.

Caption: Achim Oesert, a member of the Functional Morphology and Biomechanics group at the University of Kiel, Germany hangs from the ceiling using bioinspired polymer tape while surrounded by other team members.

Credit: University of Kiel, Germany.
By the way, after some digging I discovered that ‘AVS’ once stood for ‘American Vacuum Society’, though they don't use that name anymore.  Perhaps the AVS, as a member of the American Institute of Physics and a supporter of basic science research, no longer wishes to be associated with floor cleaning products in the public mind.