Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and the University of Akron in Ohio said their so-called "gecko tape" has four times the sticking power of geckos -- small lizards that can run up walls and across ceilings.
The tape is a polymer covered with carbon nanotubes that imitate the thousands of microscopic hairs on a gecko's footpad.
The researchers said their prototype flexible tape can stick and unstick repeatedly and be used on a wide variety of surfaces, including Teflon.
University of Akron graduate students Liehui Ge and Sunny Sethi, along with Professor Ali Dhinojwala, produced the tape in collaboration with Rensselaer postdoctoral researcher Lijie Ci and Professor Pulickel Ajayan.
The scientists said the new material could have a number of applications, including feet for wall-climbing robots; a dry, reversible adhesive in electronic devices; and in outer space, where most adhesives don't work because of the vacuum.
The study is reported in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.