A team of researchers from Cornell University in the USA have come up with some very clever gloves which allow the wearer to traverse vertical surfaces in Spider Man fashion.
However, it is not a spider that is the inspiration behind the technology, but rather a Palmetto tortoise beetle, which can be found in the US state of Florida.
The gloves have an adhesive area that covers just the palms of the hands and the bond that it forms between glass, wood or brick surfaces is quickly reversible, allowing for speedy ascent and descent. Funding for the project has been provided by the US military, which suggests that there are some tactical advantages to allowing soldiers to scale obstacles like superheroes.
Cornell University’s Professor Paul Steen is the man behind the idea. Professor Steen discovered that forcing water through minuscule holes on a flat object would create enough surface tension in the water to stick the object onto walls.
By altering the electric field within the device, it is then possible to reverse the effects and detach the object from its sticking place.
Prof. Steen said that a single 8cm square pad powered by the adhesive water technology could hold a weight of around 127kg. This would be more than enough to keep a 20 stone human suspended indefinitely.
It is believed that the applications of the technology could be used across industry and in the armed forces, allowing larger objects to be quickly attached to a surface and subsequently removed without delay whenever they are needed.