Gecko-inspired tech allows man to climb glass wall

The technology allowed a 154-pound volunteer to scale an 11.5-foot glass wall.

By Ben Hooper
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STANFORD, Calif., Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Stanford University researchers emulating Spider-Man's wall-crawling abilities turned to a different animal, the gecko, to inspire their sticky technology.

The researchers, working with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, took inspiration from the toes of geckos to create the silicone pads that allowed a 154-pound man to scale an 11.5-foot glass wall.


Each pad is worn on a climber's hand and is attached to a harness for the climber's foot.

The team, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, said "microwedges" in the pads generate electrostatic Van der Waals forces that cause molecules to be attracted to each other.

"The synthetic adhesion system creates a nearly uniform load distribution across the whole adhesive area, improving upon the adhesive-bearing structures of a gecko's toe and enabling a human to climb vertical glass using an area of adhesive no larger than the area of a human hand," the researchers wrote.

The team said the technology could have applications in manufacturing and could replace suction power and chemical adhesives in some cases.

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