Biologically inspired tape can be re-used thousands of times

Biologically inspired tape can be re-used thousands of times
Researchers at the University of Kiel in Germany have taken inspiration from nature to produce an adhesive tape that can be repeatedly peeled off surfaces without losing adhesion.

The key to many insects' wall-scaling ability lies in the thousands of tiny hairs that cover their feet and legs. These hairs have flattened tips that splay outwards to maximise surface contact.

Stanislav Gorb, a lead researcher on the project, said: "The main issue for good adhesion is intimate contact with the substrate. Due to multiple contacts points (hairs), they can build proper contact with almost any surface."

Using the same idea, the researchers produced a silicone tape patterned with similar representative tiny hairs. They found that 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 underwater, leaves behind no sticky residues, and can be attached and detached for thousands of cycles without losing its ability to grip. One team member even succeeded in dangling himself from a ceiling using just a 20 x 20cm square piece of it.

Justin Cunningham

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