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Photos: A surface inspired by geckos

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have created microfibers inspired by the gravity-defying gecko.
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1 of 4 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Scanning electron microscope

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have concocted an array of microfibers, inspired by the gravity-defying gecko, that can keep objects from sliding down near-vertical surfaces.

Here, a scanning electron microscope image of microscopic hairs on a fiber array. The hairs bond with materials that come in contact with them and make a skid-resistant surface.

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2 of 4 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Microarray

Another shot of the microarray. The array doesn't provide adhesion. Instead, it's a high-friction surface that prevents an object from falling down. It was inspired by geckos, whose feet provide both adhesion and friction.

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3 of 4 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Quarter

That quarter isn't going anywhere. With 42 million fibers per square centimeter, the array (sandwiched between the quarter and the slide) holds the coin in place through van der Waals forces, a bond that forms between two molecules when they are close to each other. Van der Waals forces also keep ice stuck to glass. The array, however, isn't sticky or goopy.

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4 of 4 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Another shot of the quarter

Another shot of the quarter. It's a lab experiment now, but someday the principles underlying the material could be embodied in products. At a minimum, Carmel Majidi, the grad student who led the study, has a great party trick for the future.

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