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New laboratory exercise on bio-inspired adhesion

Research Achievements

New laboratory exercise on bio-inspired adhesion

New research-based, teaching laboratory exercise on bio-inspired adhesion. We developed and piloted the first teaching laboratory exercise that compares a manufactured soft polymer fibrillar array with the fibrillar adhesive found on a gecko's foot. IGERT engineer and Co-PI Ron Fearing manufactured an adhesive patch with microfibers made from polydimethyl siloxane (PDMS). IGERT trainees tested the hypothesis that contact area determines behavior by examining the material under static shear, peeling tests, and dynamic slipping. Changes in the area of white patches on the illuminated glass substrate reveal changes in contact area. With assistance from biologists and PI Robert Full, IGERT trainees then compared the contact area of a gecko's foot as the animal hung on a wall, and then increased its contact force by accelerating from a standstill and running up a wall.