Want to stick to a ceiling? You'll need gecko toe hairs. Researchers at Oregon State University say the little green lizards can turn on "stickiness" for the toe hairs on the bottoms of their feet, enabling them to adhere to any surface, even ceilings.
"Since the time of the ancient Greeks, people have wondered how geckos are able to stick to walls -- even Archimedes is known to have pondered this problem," Alex Greaney, co-author and an assistant professor of engineering at OSU, said in a press release.
The hairs are called seta and the adhesion properties are essentially the same as those used by spiders and insects although they evolved independently. Researchers have been studying the adhesion system for a decade, attempting to create synthetic dry-adhesives to replicate the gecko's abilities. Such adhesives are being used by climbing robots that can search through rubble for earthquake survivors.
"While we don't envision 'Mission Impossible' sticky gloves, which are inspired by or based on the concept of gecko adhesion, we envision that robots will use gecko adhesion in extreme environments in the future," Greaney said.
Greaney said geckos' feet are "by default non-sticky" and the research showed they don't expend much energy when they unstuck from a surface, enabling them to avoid predators.
The research was published Tuesday in the Journal of Applied Physics.