Navigation Links
New angle on gecko research

Geckos are very adept at climbing through difficult terrain using an intricate adhesive system. Until now it has not been known when and how they switch on their unique system of traction.

Scientists at the University of Calgary and Clemson University in South Carolina have discovered that the geckos' amazing grip is triggered by gravity.

This latest development in gecko adhesive research will be published Wed., Aug. 5, at 00:001 BST, by Anthony Russell of the U of C and Tim Higham of Clemson in the online edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B

"Geckos use microscopic, hair-like filaments to attach to surfaces. Only at certain angles do they switch on their traction system, however," says Russell, a biological sciences professor at the U of C. "We are trying to understand this process, which will help in mimicking it for application to robotics."

Geckos have long been known for their remarkable abilities to move on smooth surfaces such as glass. This study adds a new angle to previous research: geckos must be on an incline in order to trigger the deployment of their adhesive system.

"Much has been learned in recent years about the mechanism by which clinging takes place, but little is known about how geckos determine when to use this ability," says Higham, a former U of C student and now an assistant professor of biological sciences at Clemson. "We show that perception of body orientation determines when the adhesive system is switched on."

The scientists discovered that the tipping point which turns on the gecko's adhesive system is 10 degrees. Three of the six geckos studied applied their adhesive system on a 10 degree slope. At 30 degrees all six applied the system. The three that applied the traction at 10 degrees slowed down, the three that didn't were much quicker.

"There are costs, in terms of speed, and benefits, in terms of traction, associated with this switch just as there are for Formula 1 cars when rain tires are employed instead of slicks when circumstances place a premium on grip over outright speed," says Russell.

In the case of the geckos, the intricate way that the toes are used in order to achieve the grip necessary to climb is responsible for slowing them.

Russell and Higham are both evolutionary biologists and study animals in their natural environment as well as in the lab. Insights gained through basic research assist them in designing experiments through an appreciation of how evolution has crafted its own solutions to complex problems.

The goal of Russell's research is to try to understand this complex traction system and to apply this knowledge to the development of commercial applications.

The results could be used in such areas as space exploration, medical procedures, military applications such as bomb disposal, and purposes as simple as hanging pictures on walls.


Contact: Leanne Yohemas
University of Calgary

Related biology technology :

1. Biomimetic-engineering design can replace spaghetti tangle of nanotubes in novel material
2. Regal Introduces Four, Six and Eight Port Filtered and Un-Filtered Right Angle BNC Connectors
3. Solar power game-changer: Near perfect absorption of sunlight, from all angles
4. Autonomy(TM) Lapro-Angle(TM) Articulating Laparoscopic Instruments Granted CE Mark
5. Campbell Alliance Named Best Place to Work by Triangle Business Journal
6. Imaging quantum entanglement
7. Research Triangle Area Health Care Collaborative Launches Bridges to Excellence(R) Initiative to Improve Quality and Lower Costs
8. Sticky gecko feet: The role of temperature and humidity
9. MIT creates gecko-inspired bandage
10. New adhesive mimics gecko toe hairs
11. Growing Midwestern Clinical Research Organization Selects OmniComm Systems to Provide eClinical Solutions for Phase IV Studies
Post Your Comments:
(Date:12/1/2015)... -- Twist Bioscience, a company focused on synthetic DNA, today announced ... selected as one of Foreign Policy,s 100 Leading ... of life . Each year, Foreign Policy selects ... have changed lives and are shaping the world. ... to be recognized among these incredible global leaders," said Leproust. ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... 2015 Oxford Finance LLC ("Oxford"), a specialty ... and healthcare services companies, today announced the closing of ... Inc. ("the Company"). Proceeds from the loan are being ... Company,s Rejuvaphyl™ and daily skincare products. ... brand of high potency skincare products that contain the ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 01, 2015 ... of the "2016 Europe Cell Surface ... Technologies, Competitive Strategies, Opportunities for Suppliers--France, Germany, ... offering. --> ) has ... Europe Cell Surface Markers: Country Volume and ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... Park Systems , ... add-on scanning ion conductance microscopy module to Park NX10 that is the only ... Park SICM benefits virtually all materials characterization that require measurements in liquid such ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:12/1/2015)... Calif. , Dec. 1, 2015 Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced a new agreement with ... OEMs with real-world test and development environments that combine ... solutions. The partnership reduces the complexity of FIDO certification ... software permits Synaptics and OEMs to verify FIDO enabled ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... BEACH, Fla. , Nov. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... as a finalist in this year,s Fierce Innovation Awards:  ... of FierceHealthIT , FierceHealthcare ... was recognized as a finalist in the category ... --> ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) has ... - Technology and Patent Infringement Risk Analysis" report ... --> Fingerprint sensors using capacitive technology represent ... sensor vendor Idex forecasts an increase of 360% of ... and of the fingerprint sensor market between 2014 and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):