Spiderman v Geckoman

Spiderman No MoreForget Spiderman, Geckoman is where it’s at, at least so suggests research due to be published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter. According to Nicola Pugno at the Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy, the secret of making a sticky, but non-stick, material could lie in creating a “hierarchical structure” of branching bristles from ever finer carbon nanotubes. Such a bristly material would mimic the physical properties of gecko feet that allow them to hang effortlessly by a single pad from even the smoothest of surfaces.

Pugno’s calculations suggest that the hierarchical approach could lead to a stiff, non-tangling material with tips flexible enough for temporary adhesion. Previously, the research team has suggested that carbon nanotubes might allow us to build a space elevator, which was blogged about at length in the summer of 2006.

According to a report in New Scientist, Stefano Mezzasalma of the University of Trieste in Italy says the approach definitely could work, “The first prototype of a Spiderman suit might be ready in a decade or so.” But, like I say, move over Spiderman, it’s Geckoman we want to see!

Author: spinneret

This post originally appeared in full in David Bradley’s ChemSpider.com hosted Spinneret blog (geddit?). Hopefully, any molecular structures and links are hooking up to the Chemspider database correctly, please let us know if you have problems with mol files, InChI code etc