Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nature helps to solve a sticky problem: Beetle foot pads may inspire novel artificial adhesives

Date:
April 8, 2011
Source:
Springer Science+Business Media
Summary:
The arrays of fine adhesive hairs or 'setae' on the foot pads of many insects, lizards and spiders give them the ability to climb almost any natural surface. Researchers have found that the different forces required to peel away these adhesive hairs from surfaces are what allows beetles to adhere to diverse surfaces, thereby reducing the risk of detachment. Their study provides the first adhesive force measurements from single microscopic setae in a live animal.

Beetle climbing on a leaf.
Credit: iStockphoto/Alexander Omelko

The arrays of fine adhesive hairs or 'setae' on the foot pads of many insects, lizards and spiders give them the ability to climb almost any natural surface. Research by James Bullock and Walter Federle from the University of Cambridge in England found that the different forces required to peel away these adhesive hairs from surfaces are what allows beetles to adhere to diverse surfaces, thereby reducing the risk of detachment.

Related Articles


Their study, published online in the Springer journal Naturwissenschaften -- The Nature of Science, reports the first adhesive force measurements from single microscopic setae in a live animal.

The adhesive hairs on the feet of leaf beetles are known to take three distinct shapes; pointed, flat (spatula-tipped) and disk-like. They are arranged in specific patterns across the beetle's feet, indicating different biological functions for each hair type. Given their small size (only 1/200th of a millimeter across), there existed no way to determine their individual properties. Bullock and Federle therefore devised a method for measuring the in vivo stickiness of each hair using a fine glass cantilever. By observing the deflection of the cantilever through a microscope, the force needed to detach each hair was calculated.

Results in male beetles showed that the disk-like hairs adhered with the highest force, followed by spatula-tipped and then pointed hairs. Disk-like hairs were also stiffer than either flat or pointed hairs, likely providing stability to the pad. Bullock and Federle suggest that it is these disk-like hairs in particular which allow male beetles to achieve strong adhesion on smooth surfaces. This ability is also important for the males during copulation to hold on firmly to the back of the females. The other hair types, being easier to 'un-stick', may help the beetle to rapidly detach its feet when running upside down.

Before these natural structures can be replicated as synthetic adhesives, a better understanding of their detailed function is needed. The authors conclude, "The question of how forces in natural adhesive systems run from the single-hair to the whole-animal level is a central, unresolved problem. Its understanding will be a prerequisite for the design of bio-inspired synthetic adhesives."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer Science+Business Media. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James M. R. Bullock, Walter Federle. Beetle adhesive hairs differ in stiffness and stickiness: in vivo adhesion measurements on individual setae. Naturwissenschaften, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s00114-011-0781-4

Cite This Page:

Springer Science+Business Media. "Nature helps to solve a sticky problem: Beetle foot pads may inspire novel artificial adhesives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405112753.htm>.
Springer Science+Business Media. (2011, April 8). Nature helps to solve a sticky problem: Beetle foot pads may inspire novel artificial adhesives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405112753.htm
Springer Science+Business Media. "Nature helps to solve a sticky problem: Beetle foot pads may inspire novel artificial adhesives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405112753.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins