WALL-CLIMBING GECKO INSPIRES STICKY TAPE

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SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, June 3) - Move over
Spider-Man, mere mortals may soon be coming to a ceiling near you thanks to
researchers at the University of Manchester.

They say they have cracked the secret of one of the reptile
world's greatest climbers, the gecko, and produced a sticky tape that can mimic
the lizard's gravity-defying abilities.

Soon, people could walk on walls like comic-book superhero
Spider-Man, the university said in a statement.

"The new adhesive - gecko tape - contains billions of tiny
plastic fibers which are similar to natural hairs covering the soles of geckos'
feet," it said.

Numerous species of the little lizard are common across the
Pacific.

"The research team believes it won't be long before
Spider-Man gloves become a reality."

Bob Full, a biology professor at the University of California in
the United States who was also involved, said the technology could be used for
handling computer chips and could have applications in medicine.

Plans are underway to produce larger pads and to improve the
tape's durability, according to the journal Nature Materials, which
published a paper on the gecko tape.

It added that humans could hang from the ceiling by covering
just one palm with the tape.

But Manchester University said cost was currently prohibitive.

"We have considered producing a large amount of gecko tape,
sufficient amounts to enable a student to hang out of the window of a tall
building," it said in a statement. "However, it would cost too much
money and would not benefit us scientifically."

June 4, 2003

ABC News Online: http://abc.net.au/news/ 

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