A study published in Science this week details how engineers are building new kinds of grippers inspired by the bottoms of gecko feet. A gecko’s foot is covered in microscopic hairs that lay flat when pressed against a surface. Added up across millions of these hairs, that increase in surface area lets geckos take advantage of tiny forces of molecular attraction at each point of contact—sending them scrambling up walls with ease. By mimicking those hairs with tiny, silicon wedges, researchers are now creating a gecko grip of their own—and are testing it for space.

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