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Gecko, Spiderman and Climbing Robot (Video)

Teng Li's picture

I am at Boston for MRS 2006 Fall meeting this week, where I met a real "spiderman" at the poster session tonight. I'd like to share with you the following videos which were posted at YouTube by the "spiderman" himself, Mr. Jose Berengueres at Tokyo Instititute of Technology.

Mr. "Spiderman" also has posted a video on fasting climbing robot.

I really enjoyed his unique presentation of the poster "On the form & function of gecko foot-hair" tonight. If you're at MRS but missed his poster, you can still catch him during the MRS Scientific Film Festival (don't forget to try out all his spiderman gadgets!)


Teng @ Boston


Teng Li's picture

There have been some substantial progresses in understanding the mechanics of gecko foot-hair in the past several years. Here are some representative papers:

Arzt et al PNAS 2003

Gao and Yao, PNAS 2004

Gao et al Mech. Mater. 2005

If you're aware of more in literature, welcome to add to this list. Thanks.



Six mechanichal properties of living gekco foot hair can be founf at:

Shape of spatular pads
Spolenak, R., Gorb, S., Gao, H. J. and Arzt, E. (2004). Effects of contact shape on the scaling of biological attachments. Proceedings Of The Royal Society Of London Series A-Mathematical Physical And Engineering Sciences 461, 305-319.

Lever effect

Autumn, K., Liang, Y. A., Hsieh, S. T., Zesch, W., Chan, W.-P., Kenny, W. T., Fearing, R. and Full, R. J. (2000). Adhesive force of a single gecko foot-hair. Nature 405, 681-685.
Autumn, K., Dittmore, A., Santos, D., Spenko, M. and Cutkosky, M. (2006). Frictional adhesion: a new angle on gecko attachment. Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 3569-3579.

Cantilever Effect / Roughness
Campolo, D., Jones, S. D. and Fearing, R. S. (2003). Fabrication of gecko foot-hair like nano structures and adhesion to random rough surfaces. In IEEE Nano 2003 Aug 12-14, vol. 2, pp. 856- 859. San Francisco: IEEE.
Majidi, C., Groff, R. and Fearing, R. (1995). Attachment of fiber array adhesive through side contact. Journal of Applied Physics 98, 103521.
Persson, B. N. J. and Gorb, S. (2003). The effect of surface roughness on the adhesion of elastic plates with application to biological systems. Journal of Chemical Physics 119, 11437.

Peeling Effect

Gao, H. J., Wang, X., Yao, H. M., Gorb, S. and Arzt, E. (2005). Mechanics of hierarchical adhesion structures of geckos. Mechanics of Materials 37, 275-285.

Stiffness Asymmetry
Yao, H. and Gao, H. (2006). Mechanics of robust and releasable adhesion in biology: Bottom-up designed hierarchical structures of gecko. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids 54, 1120-1146.
Autumn, K., Majidi, C., Groff, R., Dittmore, A. and Fearing, R. (2006). Effective elastic modulus of isolated gecko setal arrays. Journal of Experimental Biology 209, 3558-3568.

Moment distribution
Glassmaker, N. J., Jagota, A., Hui, C. Y. and Kim, J. (2004). Design of biomimetic fibrillar interfaces: 1. Making contact. J. R. Soc. Lond. Interface 1, 1-11.
Hui, C. Y., Glassmaker, N. J., Tang, T. and Jagota, A. (2004). Design of biomimetic fibrillar interfaces: 2. Mechanics of enhanced adhesion. J. R. Soc. Lond. Interface 1, 12-26.

And they correlate with those properties found in the magnetic hair. (Courtesy of a referee of bioinspiration & biomimetics). By the way, Boston: a really neat city.

Spiderman ;)



Cai Shengqiang's picture

The research about the mechanics of gecko foot-hair is one of my most interested works.  The nano size, hierarchical structures of the gecko foot-hair could be clearly explained by some basic theories of fracture mechanics.  The explantions about the switch between adhesion and deadhesion is also convinced. 

The research by the group of Prof. Gao and most of other researchers  assumed that the adhesion between gecko foot-hair and substrates only comes from van der waals force. But, some recent experimental researches showed that the capillary force maybe give some contributions to this adhesion.   I think the experimental results may be helpful for us to understand the interesting mechanic problems more comprehensively, so I attach the link of  this paper here:

Mechanics is part of science and technology.

Haimin Yao's picture

Unfortunately, I have not seen this spiderman in this MRS meeting.

I am just wondering if this spiderman can climb on the normal wall instead of the "iron" wall as shown in the movie.

Haimin Yao 

That s the million RMB question...

I will explain

how to climb a

normal wall



during the presentation tittled...

Gecko inspired Electrostatic Chuck

(in 2006.12.17 Kunming)



by the way ,

Does anybody Know how to make a 30 micrometer fiber

with a conducting core of dimater 20 um covered by an 5 um insulating skin?

I am using carbon nanotube mixed with polymer and extrusion process

but my 30um fibers are not conducting ><



Tienchong Chang's picture

How does a gecko get its foot clean if where some minor dusts (with diameters in several nanometers) were attached?

Haimin Yao's picture

It has been reported that the fibrillar structure of gecko has a self-clearning mechanism. Please see the following paper:

W. R. Hansen, and K. Autumn,  Evidence for self-cleaning in gecko setae, PNAS, 102 385-389.

Tienchong Chang's picture

Hi, Haimin,

Thank you so much for your useful information.

Aaron Goh's picture

Can a gecko climb a wet wall, e.g. after the wall is exposed to rain?  What about a wall which is freshly painted and the paint is not dry yet?

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