UMass is not the first institution to look to the gecko and its remarkable powers of adhesion. A team from Berkeley announced a gecko-inspired nonskid surface back in 2006. "I can list maybe 20 other people" heading up similar work, says UMass researcher Al Crosby.
Most of that work, however, has focused on the hair on the bottom of the gecko's feet. Called setae, these hairs are only part of the reason why the gecko, among other species, can use adhesion to move along walls and ceilings.
"In order for something this large to use adhesion," Crosby says, "its tendons are stitched right into its skin. And so you have the tendon, which is very stiff tissue, connected to the skin and the setae. That direct connection is critical. Without that, the gecko could not use adhesion. This direct integration is what we ended up mimicking in Geckskin.… Read more