Geckos have long inspired scientists and super-hero fans alike with their ability to scamper up vertical walls and cling to ceilings with a single toe. In recent years, people have attempted to create materials that match those spectacular abilities, in the hope of creating new advanced adhesives, or even car braking systems.
Now US chemists claim to have made one based on nanotubes that it is 10 times stickier than some gecko feet. Even more impressively, like a real gecko foot, it can also be easily unstuck with a tug in the right direction.
Gecko’s superhero toes are covered in microscopic hairs, known as setae, with even smaller branches at the tips, called spatulae.
These ensure that a gecko’s foot has a large surface area in contact with any surface, maximising the weak but ever-present attraction between adjacent molecules known as the van der Waals force.