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Physicists Have Found The Formula For A Spiderman Suit

Science Daily — Physicists have found the formula for a Spiderman suit. Only recently has man come to understand how spiders and geckos effortlessly scuttle up walls and hang from ceilings but it was doubted that this natural form of adhesion would ever be strong enough to hold the weight of real life Peter Parkers.



Recent research concluded that van der Waals forces -- the weak attraction that molecules have for each other when they are brought very close together - are responsible for creepy crawlies' amazing sticking power. It is the tiny hairs on spiders' feet that attract to the molecules of surfaces, even glass, and keep them steady.


This discovery however has been taken one step further by research published Thursday, 30 August, 2007 in the Institute of Physics' Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter to make sticky human suits.


Professor Nicola Pugno, engineer and physicist at Polytechnic of Turin, Italy, has formulated a hierarchy of adhesive forces that will be strong enough to suspend a person's full body weight against a wall or on a ceiling, while also being easy to detach.


Carbon nanotube-based technology could be used to develop nano-molecular hooks and loops that would function like microscopic Velcro. This detachable, adhesive force could be used in conjunction with van der Waals forces and capillary adhesion.


Pugno said, "There are many interesting applications for our theory, from space exploration and defense, to designing gloves and shoes for window cleaners of big skyscrapers."

The theory is all the more significant because, as with spiders' and geckos' feet, the hooks and hairs are self-cleaning and water-resistant. This means that they will not wear or get clogged by bad weather or dirty surfaces and will be able to withstand some of the harshest habitats on earth, including the deep sea.


Pugno continued, "With the idea for the adhesion now in place, there are a number of other mechanics that need addressing before the Spiderman suit can become a reality. Size-effects on the adhesion strength require further research. Moreover, man's muscles, for example, are different to those of a gecko. We would suffer great muscle fatigue if we tried to stick to a wall for many hours.


"However now that we are this step closer, it may not be long before we are seeing people climbing up the Empire State Building with nothing but sticky shoes and gloves to support them."


Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Institute of Physics.

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Ya know, If I were in the defense industry? I WOULD develop this technology to its fullest.


I figure that Our government should have a working prototype with in What? 10 years at the most.


I remember when I was first introduced to the internet; It was a modem, a printer, and a calculator, and that was it.


So to think that this tech would not be developed would be premature.

And you never know people, because I never thought that the internet would be what it is today.

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Spider-man, Spider-man

Does whatever a spider can

Spins a web, any size

Catches theives just like flies

Look out

Here comes the Spider-man


Is he strong, listen bud

He's got radioactive blood

Can he swing from a thread

Take a look over head

Hey there

There goes the Spider-man


In the chill of night

At the scene of a crime

Like a stream of light

He arrives just in time


Spider-man, Spider-man

Friendly neighborhood Spider-man

Welcome him, he's ignored

Action is his reward

To him, life is a great big bang-up

Wherever there's a hang-up

You'll find the Spider-man


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  • 5 months later...
Guest Gecko Man

Have you heard about Gecko Man?


Renowned for their ability to walk up walls like miniature Spider-Men--or even to hang from the ceiling by one toe--the colorful lizards of the gecko family owe their wall-crawling prowess to their remarkable footpads. Each five-toed foot is covered with microscopic elastic hairs called setae, which are themselves split at the ends to form a forest of nanoscale fibers known as spatulas. So when a gecko steps on almost anything, these nano-hairs make such extremely close contact with the surface that they form intermolecular bonds, thus holding the foot in place.


Now, polymer scientist Ali Dhinojwala of the University of Akron and his colleagues have shown how to create a densely packed carpet of carbon nanotubes that functions like an artificial gecko foot--but with 200 times the gecko foot's gripping power. Potential applications include dry adhesives for microelectronics, information technology, robotics, space and many other fields.


The interest of University of Akron polymer researchers in the fascinating ability of geckos to climb any surface and hang from just one toe soon could lead to advances in adhesives used in microelectronics and space applications.


The UA researchers are part of a team developing synthetic hairs from carbon nanotubes that have adhesion forces 200 times higher than those observed with gecko foot-hairs. The team includes Dr. Ali Dhinojwala, UA associate professor of polymer science; UA polymer graduate student Betul Yurdumakan; and Nachiket Raravikar and professor Pulickel Ajayan from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.


The results of their work, titled “Synthetic gecko foot-hairs from multiwalled carbon nanotubes,” were recently published in the journal Chemical Communications. The paper can be found online at




Synthetic gecko foot-hairs from multiwalled carbon nanotubes

Betul Yurdumakan, Nachiket R. Raravikar, Pulickel M. Ajayan and Ali Dhinojwala


We report a fabrication process for constructing polymer surfaces with multiwalled carbon nanotube hairs, with strong nanometer-level adhesion forces that are 200 times higher than those observed for gecko foot-hairs.


The research — funded by a four-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation — studies the powerful adhesion powers of geckos. The lizards' five-toed feet are covered with microscopic elastic hairs called setae. The ends of the setae split into spatulas, which come into contact with a surface and hold the feet in place.


“It is well known that insects such as beetles and reptiles such as geckos have evolved and developed this most effective adhesive system in order to survive,” Dhinojwala says. “The biological system in these creatures has perfected not only the mechanism to attach to steep vertical surfaces but also to detach at will.


“We already have strong adhesives that can support large forces, and we have weak adhesives such as sticky notes that can be used many times but are not strong enough to support large forces,” he adds. “It will be a challenge to figure out how to design an adhesive that can provide a strong attachment to support a large force but at the same time have the capability of detaching itself from the surface with ease.”


To achieve these objectives, the researchers are fabricating surface patterns to mimic the gecko's setae and spatulas, Dhinojwala explains. The structure is based on multiwalled carbon nanotubes constructed on polymer surfaces.


Dhinojwala says the research, which will continue with experiments with larger surface areas, could lead to improved, reusable dry adhesives that will have critical applications in microelectronics, information technology, robotics, space and other areas.




Ali Dhinojwala


University of Akron

Department of Polymer Science

170, University Circle

Goodyear Polymer Center

Akron, OH 44325

Phone: 330-972-6246




Fax: 330-972-5290


Email: ali4@uakron.edu

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