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Frogs Give Researchers Grip on Adhesion

Thursday, April 18, 2013

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When it comes to clinging to a wet, slippery, vertical surface, no one hangs in there like a tree frog.

Credit the humble amphibian's unique toe pads, which have now inspired new strategies for improving adhesion in the presence of fluid layers, according to researchers from Germany.

Cover of journal
Wiley Online Library

Tree frogs have a distinctive surface structure in their toe pads for safe attachment to wet surfaces—a perfect model for researchers looking at adhesion and friction.

Scientists at the Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung in Mainz, Germany, say they have developed elastic surfaces to mimic the structure of the amphibian’s toe-pads, which have distinct microstructure and liquid secretions that wet any surface, in order to test adhesion and friction properties.

Their research paper, “Biometrics: Insights into the Adhesive Mechanisms of Tree Frogs using Artificial Mimics,” was recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Research Details

The artificial surfaces were tested under wet conditions and a dry control, according to the report abstract.

The microstructure aided wet adhesion only if the contact surfaces were not wetted by the liquid. However, if the surface was wet, the tree frog’s microstructure significantly increased friction.

Research concluded that tree-frog pads are adapted for adhering to vertical surfaces, where shear (friction) forces are involved, according to the researchers.

The results offer insight into the benefits and limits of this type of microstructure, which may be useful in designing pavement and other surfaces where wet conditions demand strong adhesion and friction.


Tagged categories: Adhesive; Coatings technology; Concrete; Research

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