Gecko-inspired sticky pads are the first step towards the ultimate homemade Spider-Man costume


MIT has already created its own Doctor Octopus arms, and it’s only a matter of time before they gain sentience, replicate themselves, and take over the world.

Gecko FootLuckily for us, DARPA is working on a new material which could one day spawn a suit which grants its wearer the wall-climbing abilities of Spider-Man himself. And it’s all thanks to the tiny gecko.

The Z-Man programme (presumable the Gecko-Man name was already taken) focuses on improving a soldier’s ability to climb obstacles with heavy gear on, without relying on traditional rope climbing methods.

Researchers turned to the gecko – one of nature’s most formidable climbers – to create a reversible adhesive modelled on the micro-structure of gecko toes.

Geckos are able to climb on almost any surface including smooth glass, with an adhesive pressure of up to 30 pounds per square inch. That means they’re able to hang and support their entire body weight with just a single toe.

Powerful electron microscopes reveal that gecko toes are lined with hundreds of microscopic hierarchical structures (read: grippy stalks), which themselves have hundreds of ‘terminal tips’ called spatula, which branch out and contact surfaces.

Essentially, they’ve got a countless number of microscopic ‘fingers’ on their toes, which is the secret to their tremendous grip strength.

DARPA’s new Geckskin material replicates this microstructure by creating a reversible adhesive material with incredible gripping power. Combined with two paddles, an operator was able to climb up a vertical glass surface for 25 feet (7 metres) during testing.

Not only that, but weight plates totalling 300kg were hung from a 16-square-inch of Geckskin attached to a glass wall. Impressive.

You first though. We wouldn’t want to steal your limelight after all.


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