Plus: Gecko-Based Super Glue and Sitting at the Periodic Table Table.
Gecko-Inspired Super Adhesives
Mounting a television on your wall may soon be as simple as applying a strip of tape. In the latest advance in biomimicry, scientists have harnessed the power of the gecko, a 5-ounce lizard whose remarkable feet produce an adhesive force equivalent to carrying 9 lbs. up a vertical surface without slipping.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a new adhesive, known as “Geckskin,” which enables a device roughly the size of an index card to hold up to 700 lbs. while adhering to a smooth surface, such as glass. Every square millimeter of a gecko’s foot contains thousands of hair-like setae that grip onto surfaces without using fluids, but previous attempts to replicate the setae-effect on a larger scale have been unsuccessful.
“So the team… practically ignored setae altogether. Instead, the key innovation of Geckskin is to copy the skin and tendon combo of a tokay gecko,” Wired.com explains. “The team made an integrated adhesive with a soft pad, which is woven into a stiff fabric. This allows the pad to ‘drape’ over a surface, maximizing contact. Then the synthetic gecko skin is woven into a fake gecko tendon that mimics the lizard’s foot’s stiffness and rotational freedom.”
The resulting Geckskin pad resists peeling off, even on a vertical wall with a smooth or slippery surface. However, tugging on it will cause it to release, allowing it to be reused many times without leaving behind a sticky residue or losing its adhesive strength. Geckskin is also composed of fairly common materials, such as polydimethylsiloxane, offering the potential to develop other low-cost, durable adhesives using the same principles.
“Other examples of gecko-inspired adhesives include geckel, a material that combines gecko-properties with a synthetic glue-like material found in mussels and a ‘Super tape’ that’s strong enough to support the weight of a full grown man,” SmartPlanet notes. “Holding up 700-pound objects, however, is taking adhesive muscle to a whole other level entirely.”
In the following video, Geckskin successfully holds up a T.V. weighing approximately 40 lbs.
The Pharmaceutical Microchip Implant
Receiving injections, regularly visiting the drug store for refills and carefully managing doses may soon become things of the past, as a new breakthrough in medical device technology is enabling patients to receive medicine through an implanted microchip â€” essentially a tiny pharmacy embedded within the body.
A team of researchers from MIT and MicroCHIPS Inc. recently completed the first successful human trial for their implantable microchip-based drug-delivery device, which releases precise doses of a drug through a wireless communication link and receives confirmation messages verifying proper operation. The clinical trial involved the osteoporosis drug teriparatide, which is normally administered through daily injections.
“Implanting the device is a fairly simple outpatient procedure. The patient, injected with a local anesthetic, gets a one-inch incision slightly below and to one side of the navel to create a pocket into which the device is fitted. The microchips are placed facing the muscle, and the entire device is sewn in place with two stitches. The incision is closed with a nylon suture,” the New York Times reports. “Blood tests showed that the drugs dispensed by microchip were as effective as ordinary injections in increasing bone mass and bone mineral density, and the individual automatic releases were slightly more consistent in quantity and effect than daily shots. There were no serious side effects.”
The microchip itself is only one-fiftieth of an inch thick and half an inch long. It contains a series of tiny reservoirs, each holding 600 nanoliters of a highly concentrated drug solution. The doses are covered with a layer of gold nanoparticles, which dissolve from exposure to a specific radiofrequency. The sides of the reservoirs in contact with human tissue are coated in a metallic membrane wired to internal electronics that provide a path for an electrical current. Following implantation, the chip can be programmed to deliver exact doses on a schedule or activated via computer.
The Periodic Table Table
Your table might be nice, but it probably pales in comparison to the one designed by Theodore Gray, a bestselling author, science writer and software developer. His background in chemistry helped him conceive and construct a masterful piece of furniture that contains every element present in the periodic table (excluding, of course, the dangerously radioactive ones).
The following video, produced by the American Chemical Society, shows some of the fascinating and eclectic features of the Periodic Table Table. It’s every science nerd’s fantasy.
Have a great weekend, folks.