Carbon Nanotube Arrays with Strong Shear Binding-On and Easy Normal Lifting-Off

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Science  10 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5899, pp. 238-242
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159503

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The ability of gecko lizards to adhere to a vertical solid surface comes from their remarkable feet with aligned microscopic elastic hairs. By using carbon nanotube arrays that are dominated by a straight body segment but with curly entangled top, we have created gecko-foot–mimetic dry adhesives that show macroscopic adhesive forces of ∼100 newtons per square centimeter, almost 10 times that of a gecko foot, and a much stronger shear adhesion force than the normal adhesion force, to ensure strong binding along the shear direction and easy lifting in the normal direction. This anisotropic force distribution is due to the shear-induced alignments of the curly segments of the nanotubes. The mimetic adhesives can be alternatively binding-on and lifting-off over various substrates for simulating the walking of a living gecko.

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