The researchers at the University of Kiel in Gemany as seen in the alongside picture appear to try some space-walking... Actually they are dry testing the strength of a new adhesive tape, a 20 x 20 cm (7.87 in) square piece was able to support the weight of one team member dangling from the ceiling.
How did they do it ???
By copying the biology of gravity-defying ceiling walkers, such as geckos and insects.
The secret to the wall climbing ability of many insects and geckos lies in the thousands of tiny hairs called setae that cover their feet and legs. The sheer abundance of these hairs, coupled with flattened tips that can splay out to maximize contact on even rough surface areas, make it sufficient for the Van der Waals forces, which operate at a molecular level and are relatively weak compared to normal chemical bonds, to provide the requisite adhesive strength that allows them to scurry along walls and ceilings.
It is this technique that the research group, led by Stanislav Gorb, have mimicked with their silicone tape. By patterning the tape with tiny hairs similar to setae, they created a tape that was at least two times harder to pull off of a surface than a flat tape of the same material. Additionally, the bioinspired tape leaves no sticky residue, can also work underwater, and can be repeatedly peeled off thousands of times without losing its ability to grip.
If things go as planned, we should be soon having a real spider-man, or would we call it a gecko-man, climbing up the vertical walls and ceiling. The value in industry would be huge!
Encouraged by their success, The researchers are also looking to nature in the form of beetle coverwings, snake skin, and anti-adhesive plants, for inspiration for other bioinspired materials.