Allowing shoes or gloves that stick and unstick to walls on command
Researchers at Cornell University have created a palm-sized device that uses water tension as a switchable adhesive bond and can support many times its own weight. The device could usher in a whole new generation of superheroes by allowing shoes or gloves that stick and unstick to walls on command, or see the creation of Post-It notes that can bear loads.
As reported in the Cornell Chronicle Online the device’s inventors, Paul Steen, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Michael Vogel, a former postdoctoral associate, took their inspiration from Florida’s palm or tortoise beetle, which can stick to a leaf with a force 100 times its own weight by secreting an oil and pressing tens of thousands of bristles against the leaf. It can then release itself in an instant.
The adhesive device uses an electric field from a common 9-volt battery to move water from through a three-layer structure. This creates surface tension of the exposed droplets which and allow the device to adhere to another surface. Turn of the current and the stickiness disappears.
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