How to out-gecko the gecko

The race to find a material as "sticky" as a gecko's foot could soon be over as stronger and more practical materials are simultaneously reported in the latest issue of Science by a team based at four US institutions. Scientists have long been interested in the ability of gecko lizards to scurry up walls and cling to ceilings by their toes. The creatures owe this amazing ability to microscopic branched elastic hairs in their toes that take advantage of atomic-scale attractive forces to grip surfaces and support surprisingly heavy loads. Now, researchers have found a way to mimic those hairy gecko feet using polymers or carbon nanotubes. The new material has a gripping almost three times stronger than the previous record and ten times as sticky as the gecko foot itself.