Biological and biologically inspired adhesives

Published on September 13, 2013

In biological systems, adhesive organs used for attachment to substrates as well as those involved in catching prey, demonstrate a huge diversity of their structural properties.


Remarkably, these highly-specialized structures are not restricted to one particular area of the body and operate due to various combinations of physical principles. The research at the Functional Morphology and Biomechanics group at the Zoological Institute at the Kiel University combines approaches of several disciplines: zoology, botany, structural biology, biomechanics, physics, and materials science. Using a wide variety of methods, we study mechanical systems and materials, which emerged during biological evolution. Some of these adhesive systems employ secretory substances, modulating forces in the contact area, or bear the capability of operating underwater. In order to explore different functional principles, we experimentally test many different systems and try to outline general rules of the interrelationship between structure and function. Since comparative studies on the microsculpture, ultrastructure, material properties, and attachment-detachment performances of several functional systems include a wide variety of organisms, some questions about the evolution of these systems can be resolved. Our studies aid in finding interesting structure-function relationships, which can be used for technical applications. Recently, together with the company Binder (Holzgerlingen, Germany) we developed an adhesive tape, which is capable of adhesion enhancement on flat surfaces by the use of bioinspired surface microstructures.

Gorb Group | Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany

Stanislav Gorb is Professor for Functional Morphology and Biomechanics at the Zoological Institute at the Kiel University, Germany. His research interests include biological attachment, evolution of structure and functions, biotribology, biomimetics, and animal-plant interactions.

Clemens Schaber is Postdoc in the Group of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics. His current research is focused on the mechanical characterization of dry attachment systems of arthropods and biologically inspired adhesives.

Thomas Kleinteich is Postdoc in the Group of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics. His current research interest is in vertebrate wet adhesion systems, such as the amphibian sticky tongue and the clingfish suctorial disk.

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