Geckos can do something that we humans would love to do: stick things (in their case their feet) to any kind of surface and remove it when desired.
Mimicking these properties would be handy in all kinds of applications. One can think of superior post-it notes, fixation for household items, applications in sports equipment and biomedical materials, vacuum transport, robotics…
Geckos can do so because the hierarchical fibrillar structures on their feet enable them to attach and detach quickly and repetitively. Research suggests that fibrillar surfaces allow effective contact to rough surfaces and enhance adhesion by a factor that correlates with the density of fibrils (the “contact splitting” principle).
Recently, surfaces patterned with pillars to mimic gecko feet have been developed for reusable adhesion. However, arrays of simple vertical micropillars do not replicate enough features of the gecko feet to give the desired adhesion. In this project we use block copolymer self-assembly to develop advanced nanostructured adhesives and study the adhesive properties.