Study of remora fish could lead to new adhesives

Engineers in the US have taken inspiration from the way remora fish attach themselves to predators to develop a new type of adhesive.

"While other creatures with unique adhesive properties have been the inspiration for laboratory fabricated adhesives, the remora has been overlooked until now," said Jason Nadler a senior research engineer at Georgia Tech.

"The remora's attachment mechanism is quite different from other suction cup-based systems, fasteners or adhesives that can only attach to smooth surfaces or cannot be detached without damaging the host."

The researchers believe the new adhesive could be used to create pain and residue-free bandages, attach sensors to objects in aquatic or military reconnaissance environments, replace surgical clamps and help robots climb.

They are now planning to conduct further tests to better understand the roles of the various suction disk structural elements of the remora to create a successful attachment and detachment system in the laboratory.

"We are not trying to replicate the exact remora adhesion structure that occurs in nature," Nadler explained. "We would like to identify, characterise and harness its critical features to design and test attachment systems that enable those unique adhesive functions.

"Ultimately, we want to optimise a bio-inspired adhesive for a wide variety of applications that has capabilities and performance advantages over adhesives or fasteners available today."

Laura Hopperton

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