Synthetic gecko hairs, SEM

Synthetic gecko hairs, SEM

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This image is part of the feature Biomimetics

Credit: ANDRE GEIM/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Synthetic gecko hairs. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of synthetic gecko hairs. In 2000, a team in California discovered that geckos are equipped with billions of tiny hair-like structures (spatulae) on each toe. Intermolecular forces (van der Waals) are produced by the hairs, allowing geckos to climb. In 2003, Professor Geim's team at Manchester University produced a 'sticky' tape, which mimicks the action of spatulae. Plastic pillars, only two thousandth of a millimetre tall, are attached to a flexible base so that the 'hairs' come into contact with the smallest undulations. A 0.5 centimetre square piece is capable of supporting 100 grams or more.

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Keywords: 21st century, biological, biology, biomimetics, biotechnology, coloured, false-colour, false-coloured, hairs, many, materials science, microscopic, mimicking, mimicks, multiple, pillar, plastic pillars, scanning electron micrograph, scanning electron microscope, sem, side view, side-view, spatulae, sticky tape, synthetic gecko hair, van der waals forces

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