London, Jan 23 : Your dreams of scaling walls like Spider-man may soon be a reality, for researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are developing gecko-gloves for the comic hero type climbing.
The "Spiderman gloves" could be ready within three years.
The research team have reported that they have solved the mystery of how the lizards manage to stick without getting stuck.
"I think gecko-gloves for Spiderman type climbing could be made in three to five years," Telegraph quoted Prof Ron Fearing of the University of California, Berkeley, as saying.
The researchers said that while conventional adhesive tape sticks when pressed on a surface, the new gecko-inspired adhesive only adheres when it slides. This implies that it is a directional adhesive, exploiting the same effect, which allows a real gecko to run up walls while rapidly attaching and detaching its toes.
The gecko-inspired smart adhesive, which is dry, uses hard plastic microscopic fibres of polypropylene that mimic this effect.
As for the prospect of spidey gloves, "of course, climbing would require a good athlete, and it would probably be a good idea to have some extra contact area such as pads on knees, chest, and so on. There are issues remaining to be solved, as in sticking to dirty or rough surfaces, such as you would find on the outside of a building," said Prof Fearing.
"Gecko tape was proved as a concept a few years ago by our group. Since then, there have been several steps in the right direction to reach its commercial availability and the current papers are yet another one. But it requires a giant leap to make gecko tape available in shops, which we all are looking forward to," said Prof Andre Geim of the University of Manchester.
The study is published in the journal Interface.