Progress to artificial gecko like wall climbing for people

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed an adhesive that is the first to master the easy attach and easy release of the reptile’s padded feet. The material could prove useful for a range of products, from climbing equipment to medical devices. One of my predictions from 2006 was that there would be artificial gecko like wall climbing. [Gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military and enthusiasts 2008-2012]

This collage illustrates gecko adhesion, from toes to nanostructures.
Credit: K. Autumn, Lewis and Clark College. Full resolution images are available for license, and require permission from Kellar Autumn for use (

Two centimeters on a side can support 400 grams (close to a pound). While tape sticks when it presses onto a surface, the new adhesive sticks as it slides on a surface and releases as it lifts — this is the trick behind a gecko’s speedy vertical escapes.

Therefore if this scales linearly then 300 square centimeters would support a 131 lb person. 30 cm by 10 cm would be a largish shoe. 600 square centimeters would support a 262 lb person+ gear. 200 square centimeters per foot and hand would allow one foot or hand to be moved while the other three kept contact to the wall.

The gecko-inspired adhesive can support significant weight. Increasing weight increases contact area for the adhesive (contact area is the bright area near the top of the patch). As the load increases, more fibers are recruited to make contact, increasing the strength of the adhesion parallel to the surface. When the sliding force is removed, the fibers straighten, and the patch is easily released with negligible pull-off force. The patch has demonstrated better than 1/6 of a real gecko’s stress on the same glass surface.

Researchers have developed a directional adhesive, inspired by the gecko, using microfibers made from a hard polymer, polypropylene. The polymer fibers are 600 nanometers in diameter, just 1/100 the diameter of a human hair, and are formed by a casting process. Like the gecko, the synthetic microfiber array is not sticky except when fibers slide a small distance along a surface. While the present microfiber array works on smooth glass, future versions could be useful for medical equipment, sporting goods, or climbing robots where a directional and easy attach-release adhesive is needed.
Credit: J. Lee and R.S. Fearing, UC Berkeley

The current work is an improvement over the Gekkomat. It seems the current work will not need air tanks for suction and the contact pads can be smaller and less cumbersome

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On the California bill (Devore), I believe there is a hearing on it, AB 719, on april 17. It would be a shame to leave the field that day to the anti-nukers. soem show of support is critical to sending messages to the California Legislature of the importance of giving this serious consideration, study and ultimately, passage.


I hope that really was a message from State assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

In terms of what is called nuclear waste it is mostly not completely burned nuclear fuel.
0. Public education to understand what the real risks are. How deadly coal energy is and how it releases uranium and thorium into the air.

There are two ways to handle nuclear "waste"
1. With nuclear reprocessing as is done in France, Japan, UK, Russia. the Japan reactor cost about $20 billion and took 13 years to make. The US would need three of those to handle all of its current yearly production. It seems like a better alternative than Yucca Mountain.

2. With high burn reactors like Thorium Liquid-Flouride reactors.

One of the critics in a news article (John Galloway) was talking about nuclear costs being unknown. He was referring to 4th gen reactors. We have to build the 3rd (or 3.5 gen) generation reactors. 26 are being built around the world. Plenty of recent cost data and build times.

We need to look at up-powering existing and new reactors. Donut shaped nuclear fuel and nanoparticles in the coolant can allow a 50% power increase. (work from MIT research)

We should apply better particulate and other filtering to the coal plants. US Senator Carpers 2006 bill would be a good start. Cleaning up air pollution is an unfinished job. Fixing air pollution will save medical cost money and lives.


I appreciate the discussion on this board.

With Sen. Perata's bill last year that bans the renewal of contracts from coal power (20 percent of California's power is from coal), coupled with AB 32's growing restrictions, we've backed ourselves into a corner. I don’t see how we make up coal’s 20 percent while keeping power reliable and affordable for working class Californians without nuclear power at least doubling to fill part of the vacuum caused by the departure of coal.

Solar today produces 0.2 percent of power in California. We could increase it by a factor of 10 and it still would not be enough.

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman, 70th District


kurt, I'm afraid that when all the boomers retire they'll have more time on their hands to continue to inflict political damage.


The almost even split with voters between those for and those against new nuclear plants is the key. A couple of more percentage points and the bill gets passed to allow plants in california. then plants start getting built.
Any further support in the future for nuclear power would be less important.

Then there is the question of how many support significantly investing in mass produced new uranium fission or thorium. Actually having coherent national and state level energy policies. Enough people and politicians may stumble upon the correct choices out of fear of global warming and CO2.

So long as the right choices are made that is all that matters.


Opposition to nuclear power is generational. It's one of those hippie baby boomer things. The boomers in this age group are reaching retirement and will soon drop off the political scene. At such time, opposition to nuclear power will go away.

Opposition to nuclear power will be very marginal by 2020.


Very interesting...

I was thinking this morning about how much the "environmentalist" community (and I put that in quotations because I think they are hurting the planet terribly by fighting nuclear power) hate nuclear power.

Whenever you bring up the thought of new nuclear energy, or better forms of nuclear energy like thorium, they say things like "well, once upon a time they said it would be too cheap to meter" or "they said it was safe but look at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl".

What's remarkable to me is how new ideas in nuclear energy are rejected out of hand by this community. Somehow they consider the technology so utterly irredeemable that no matter how many of their issues you address (whether it's safety, waste, or economy) they won't consider it.

Contrast that with their opinions on solar and wind energy. For fifty years we're heard about how in the future the world will be powered by "cheap clean solar energy". Well, solar is definitely NOT cheap. But that doesn't both them--they think governments should subsidize solar development heavily (which they already do) and penalize energy use. But subsidies, when associated with nuclear power, are considered grounds for killing the technology.

Solar and wind power make the tiniest fraction of planetary power. They are growing, but not fast enough to make up for world energy demand. But that is not a problem to this crowd--they continue to place their faith in this technology even when all real metrics point to its un-economy and the fact that it can't be developed fast enough.

All the while the coal producers laugh their heads off and continue to dig the black rock out of the ground and make money on the death of thousands.

The enviros need to wake up, or at least be consistent in the arguments. If subsidies are bad for nuclear, then they're bad for solar. If nuclear is un-economic, then you better look at solar in the same viewpoint. If toxic nuclear waste is a planetary threat then you have to think about all the arsenic, cadmium, and other yummy bits that will come from the billions of tons of solar panels that will be expended after 15 years or so. Solar panels don't last very long in real operation.