What do mussels and geckos have in common? They're both super-sticky, and scientists have
a new glue based on the adhesive properties of both animals.
The new glue, called "geckel nanoadhesive" in the
current issue of Nature
, is inspired by gecko feet. Gecko feet have pads covered with "hairs." The hairs, each less than 1/10 the thickness of a human hair, are split at the ends into many more, even thinner (think nanometers) hairs that have cup-like shapes on them called spatulae. It's the spatulae--half a million on each tiny foot--that make it possible for geckos to climb up walls without secreting any kind of adhesive.
The scientists used the design of gecko spatulae and coated them with a man-made adhesive similar to the one that makes mussels stick to rocks. The result is a super-sticky, super-durable glue that would work as well wet as it would dry. The scientists hope the new material will be used in the medical field to create long-lasting, durable bandages and patches.