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Geckos can Cling to Teflon Under Water

Apr 28, 2014 09:02 AM EDT
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The University of Akron has found that geckos can stick to Teflon under water.

Geckos belong to the family Gekkonidae. The family has over 100 genera and 1,000 species. Most gecko species are 3 to 15 cm (1.2 to 6 inches) long and their tails account for nearly half their length. Geckos use hair-like projections on their legs to climb and run on different surfaces.

Geckos' ability to stick to different surfaces has inspired scientists to create new class of sticky materials.

Recently, University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists improved their Geckskin, which is an adhesive designed after geckos.

University of Akron's Biomimicry Research and Innovation Center scientists wanted to know whether or not the lizards can stick to Teflon, Ohio Beacon Journal reported. Research showed that the popular DuPont nonstick product not only resists omelet, but also sticky lizards.

However, undergraduate student Nicholas Wucinich wanted to know if geckos could stick to Teflon under water.

"I didn't have an answer," said Alyssa Stark, 31, a doctoral candidate in the university's integrated bioscience program, according to Ohio Beacon Journal. "I also didn't think the results would be all that interesting. If they don't stick in air why should they stick in water?"

However, experiments run on the geckos' clinging abilities surprised researchers.

"They stuck," Stark told the Ohio Beacon Journal. "There is an important moral to this story. Always listen to your students."

Previous research has shown that the geckos walk on wet plastic and plexiglass by creating air pockets around their toes. These air pockets protect their feet from water and preserve their stickiness.

Why design gecko-inspired adhesives?

According to Dr. Peter H. Niewiarowski, professor of biology and integrated bioscience and one of the principal investigators of the latest gecko research, a material with the sticking power of the gecko feet could revolutionize construction. Super sticky bandages could also help close wounds after injury or surgery.

"We use fasteners that are hard to acquire or involve toxic by-products that are hard to recycle," he told Ohio Beacon Journal. "What if you can fasten the corners of walls by using a gecko-inspired fastener? Then you could break down the walls and move them around and create a different living space."

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