Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Unusual Biomedical Animals Week Feet of Strength

How geckos toes grip – a blueprint for biomimicry?

24 June 2020

Feet of Strength

Geckos can be found sprinting up trees, walls and windows in hot climates around the world. Pads on their toes hold the secret to their remarkable stickiness – thousands of tiny hairs called setae that produce clingy Van der Waals' forces. A gecko might use its gripping power – capable of supporting a 100 times its own weight – when leaping away from predators onto springy leaves – but they’ve also attracted the attention of scientists’ developing gecko-inspired robots, Searching for ways to improve their biomimicry, researchers recently discovered that having multiple toes helps the gecko adapt its movement to changes underfoot – redistributing its weight quickly when switching between slippery and firm surfaces. In the future, gecko-like toes could be built into helpful devices from small soft grippers to medical robots, holding tight in the changing, fluid environments of the human body.

Written by John Ankers

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