“Gecko Toes” Key to Natural Adhesive

Each gecko toe—they have five per foot—contains thousands of microhairs, which are generally 100 microns long and five microns in diameter, according to Fearing. (A micron is about four one hundred-thousandths of an inch.) The microhair’s ability to adhere comes from touching, dragging against, and biting into a surface, rather than pressing down against it (as a piece of adhesive tape would). Because the hair is at an angle on the gecko’s toe, it catches against a surface when moved in one direction, but can be freed from that surface when moved in the opposite direction. “In hindsight, it makes great sense,” he adds. “Its feet should only stick when they want them to.”

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