Inspired by insects, scientists have designed a dry tape that can be repeatedly peeled off while retaining its adhesive properties. The design is a novel invention by scientists from the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel, Germany.
The abilities of insects to run up walls, hang from ceilings, and perform other amazing feats have for centuries fascinated human observers.
Now, the scientists from the University of Kiel, who have been studying these able acrobats, have borrowed some of these tricks to make their innovative tape.
The key to many insects' wall-scaling ability lies in the thousands of tiny hairs that cover their feet and legs. The hairs have flattened tips that can splay out to maximize contact on even rough surfaces.
"The main issue for good adhesion is intimate contact with the substrate," explained Stanislav Gorb, a lead researcher on the project.
"Due to multiple contacts points (hairs), they can build proper contact with almost any surface," Gorb said.
Using the same idea, the researchers manufactured a silicone tape patterned with similar tiny hairs.
They found the patterned tape was at least two times harder to pull off of a surface than a flat tape of the same material.
The insect inspired tape can also work under water, leaves behind no sticky residues, and can be attached and detached for thousands of cycles without losing its ability to grip.
The researchers presented their work at the AVS Symposium, held Oct. 30 - Nov. 4, in Nashville, Tenn.