Science Scope

The future of electronics inspired by geckos?

Posting in Design

Scientists developed a way of printing electronics on complex surfaces. They were inspired by geckos.

Our clothes might soon get a little smarter thanks to the superhero qualities geckos take for granted.

Geckos have amazingly sticky feet.

When geckos climb on surfaces, their feet stick to the wall. But they can remove their feet just as easily by controlling the amount of contact area with the surface.

Knowing that, Northwestern University researchers created a reversible way of printing electronics onto a number of surfaces including clothes and plastic.

The trick was creating something that could act like the lizard's foot.

The square polymer stamp can take electronic devices from a silicon surface and print them onto complex surfaces, the researchers said.

The stamp has four pyramid-shaped tips, so they can have the same reversible effect geckos naturally have.

No doubt, the pyramid tips have to be just right for this to work.

Not only can the adhesion strength change, the new stamp can help print layers of electronics. This would open up the door to more complex electronics.

University of California Berkeley biologist Robert Full is also fascinated by gecko feet. He designed a robot called Spinybot, which was designed to walk up glass in a similar way geckos do.

Full spoke about his research at TED:


Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure