New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

Flexible patches of silicone that stick to skin and conduct electricity could serve as the basis for a new, reusable electrode for medical applications.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

View full profile.


Learn about our editorial policies.

Apr 6, 2016

FLICKR, BIZMACFor years, researchers have recreated the microscopic hair-like pillars on gecko feet that, through atomic forces known as van der Waals’ interactions, allow the animals to scurry up walls and across ceilings. Such gecko-inspired adhesives could have a variety of applications, including medical bandages, but materials scientist Seokwoo Jeon at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and colleagues wanted to apply these materials to create a novel wearable electrode.

The team created the microscopic pillar design by pouring a mix of conductive carbon nanotubes, graphene nanopowder, and a silicone known as polydimethylsiloxane into a mold shaped like a series of 15 µm golf tees and letting the elastomer cure for two hours at 120 °C. The resulting 4-inch by 4-inch square patch can be attached and removed from skin 30 times without losing its stickiness, and the patch retained its electricity-conducting ability even when...

The new material could be “crucially important in next-generation skin-like technologies for wearable electronics,” John Rogers, a materials science professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who was not involved in the work, told Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).

Jeon and colleagues now hope to try other materials to give such gecko-inspired adhesives different properties. “For example, fillers with functionalities such as thermal conductivity, magnetism, and luminosity are excellent candidates for realizing different types of multifunctional, self-adhesive platforms,” he told C&EN.

Interested in reading more?

New Gecko-Inspired Adhesive

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?