What do the gecko and mussel have in common? The great ability to adhere to any surface, albeit in a different way: one does it in the dry, the other in the wet! Illinois scientists have studied these two ways of "sticking" to create a portent glue: the "geckel", a combination of Gecko and Mussel (gecko and mussel in English).
After thoroughly studying the properties of these two animals, scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois tried to reproduce them in the laboratory. The result of this study is a synthetic adhesive polymer that works in water and can be reused several times. It was built by mimicking the structure of the gecko's legs, with a layer of microscopic silicon "hairs". The whole was then soaked in a solution based on an amino acid 3, 4-L - dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), the same content in the proteins produced by mussels.
Dreaming of Spiderman
While waiting to build shoes that allow you to walk on skyscrapers, mimicking the companies of Spiderman, for now scientists foresee possible applications only in the health field, for example in the creation of waterproof plasters. This is also because at present the product is effective only in small dimensions (1 cm squared).
(News updated July 27, 2007)