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From micro to nano contacts in biological attachment devices

By Eduard Arzt, Stanislav Gorb and Ralph Spolenak

Abstract

Animals with widely varying body weight, such as flies, spiders, and geckos, can adhere to and move along vertical walls and even ceilings. This ability is caused by very efficient attachment mechanisms in which patterned surface structures interact with the profile of the substrate. An extensive microscopic study has shown a strong inverse scaling effect in these attachment devices. Whereas μm dimensions of the terminal elements of the setae are sufficient for flies and beetles, geckos must resort to sub-μm devices to ensure adhesion. This general trend is quantitatively explained by applying the principles of contact mechanics, according to which splitting up the contact into finer subcontacts increases adhesion. This principle is widely spread in design of natural adhesive systems and may also be transferred into practical applications

Topics: Physical Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1073/pnas.1534701100
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:196850
Provided by: PubMed Central
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