Forget 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!