Move over Spiderman! Geckomen may come in droves with this ultra-cool adhesive that allows anyone to cling to a surface and detach easily using UV light.
Geckos can walk and cling to surfaces with their bare little limbs, but how they do that still baffles scientists. These geckos become the subject of scrutiny just so scientists can get to the bottom of this mystery.
Just when experts thought they have already achieved a reasonable gecko-like adhesives, this new one comes up.
The azobenzene molecular structure re-configures when exposed to UV light, bending the sticky structure until attached items fall off. Credit: Emre Kizilkan and Jan Strueben
The credit goes to the researchers at Kiel University in Germany who developed the impressive technology. Instead of following the footsteps of product developers who uses heat or electronics to make their adhesives work, the German researchers decided to follow a different method of getting their adhesive to work. The inventors decided to use the UV-light sensitive azobenzene crystals.
The three-layer tape adhesives with mushroom-shaped pillars on top, can have its adhesive function switched on and off depending on how the UV light is controlled.
Microstickers looking like mushroom-shaped pillars. Credit: Emre Kizilkan
The middle layer, made of azobenzene liquid crystals, is sandwiched between the layers of polydimethylsiloxane. The upper material allows the liquid crystal adhesives to stick to the surface given with correct alignment, which can only be possible with the direction of UV light. The adhesives curl slightly and allow the entire material to pull away from the surface, thus the release.
The researchers have tested their invention to different materials like glass spheres, slides and even Eppendorf tubes. They suggest it might be possible to pull objects as heavy as a human being.
See: Researchers Designed 3-D Graphene That’s Lighter, 10X Stronger Than Steel!