January 12, 2010

Professor’s gecko research appears on cover of a top science journal

Biology professor Kellar Autumn earned the cover of a leading science journal, Interface, for his groundbreaking research on gecko adhesion.
  • Image courtesy of Professor Kellar Autumn

Professor of Biology Kellar Autumn earned the cover of a leading science journal, Interface, for his research on gecko adhesion.

Autumn is an expert in biomaterials and biomechanics. His discovery of the mechanism of adhesion in geckos has received worldwide attention and led to the invention of novel nanostructured adhesives.

The February issue of Interface features new discoveries made by Autumn and a research team that also includes Associate Professor of Physics Michael Broide.

Autumn and the research team discovered that the hairlike structures on gecko feet, known as setae, stick more strongly the faster they slide and do not wear out after prolonged use.

“This is surprising because friction between dry, hard, macroscopic materials typically decreases at the onset of sliding, and as velocity increases, friction continues to decrease because of a reduction in the number of interfacial contacts, due in part to wear,” the research team wrote in the article abstract.

Broide directs the John S. Rogers Science Research Program, a program that allows students to participate in graduate-level research with an emphasis on strengthening their communication skills by requiring presentations of their findings. Working closely with peers and faculty members, students undertake research questions and present their work in two public venues. He also serves as the chair of the Department of Physics.

In this podcast, he and a student research team talk about the summer program and one of the research projects that happened in 2009.