Spiderman comes to Manchester

Scientists at The University of Manchester have developed a new type of adhesive which mimics the mechanism employed by geckos to climb surfaces, including glass ceilings.

Scientists at The University of Manchester have developed a new type of adhesive which mimics the mechanism employed by geckos (a type of lizard) to climb surfaces, including glass ceilings.

Researchers within the newly opened Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology at the University have been working on the new adhesive since 2001, after learning the mechanism of gecko’s climbing skills from biophysicists.

Now they have been able to manufacture self-cleaning, re-attachable dry adhesives, and the research team believes it won’t be long before ‘Spiderman’ gloves become a reality – particularly useful for rock climbers and window cleaners.

The new adhesive (‘gecko tape’) contains billions of tiny plastic fibres, less than a micrometer in diameter, which are similar to natural hairs covering the soles of geckos.

Dr. Irina Grigorieva, Kostya Novoselov and Sergey Dubonos, the researchers who micro fabricated the structures, worked on the project with Professor Andre Geim, Director of the Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology.

Many academics and researchers have also been working on developing the elusive ‘gecko tape’, including Bob Full from Berkeley University. He commented: ‘Geim’s development is very exciting, as uses for the tape are nearly unlimited.’