Self-cleaning gecko feet

Researchers have taken another step forward in understanding how gecko's feet are so simultaneously sticky and non-sticky. These lizards famously cling to almost any surface with little effort it seems whether horizontal, vertical or upside down, and yet the adhesive properties of their hairy feet are not fully understood. After all, if the foot pads are so sticky, how does the creature unstick its feet to move? Shihao Hu at the University of Akron and colleagues have demonstrated how the toe-peeling action of the gecko's stride allows dirt particles that adhere to the setae, the sticky hairs, to be dislodged with each step, refreshing the hairy surface ready to stick to the next point on the rock face, tree, or ceiling. Researchers are keen to understand such details in their quest to find novel adhesive materials that work in a wide range of conditions for countless engineering applications.