Gecko-Inspired Gloves Allows You to Scale Glass Walls Like Spiderman (VIDEO)
Spiderman has some competition. Scientists have created gloves that allow the user to scale glass walls like a gecko.
The adhesive equipment is made from a silicone material called polydimethylsiloxane, which the researchers layered as microscopic wedges. The material itself isn't actually sticky like glue, though. Instead, it relies on physics in order to grip slippery surfaces.
Scientists have been studying the gecko's ability to hang onto slick surfaces for years now. But it's only now that they've managed to replicate this ability in the form of these new hand pads. Essentially, the "stickiness" relies on van der Waals forces. These forces are weak, atomistic level forces, and geckos take advantage of these forces through a system of branched hairs, called setae, on their toes. These setae can deform to make contact with even very rough surfaces, resulting in millions of contact points that can carry a small load. What's interesting is that when a gecko shifts its weight, its feet are readily released and can then stick again. This runs contrary to most manmade adhesives, which can only stick once and are difficult to release.
Now, scientists have replicated this ability in the new hand pads. Yet these new pads aren't just good for allowing people to mimic Spiderman. The material could also be useful in helping astronauts grabbing space debris and other off-world applications.
The findings are published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Want to see the gloves in action for yourself? Check out the video below, courtesy of YouTube.