Geckskin, the re-useable, super-strong adhesive inspired by the footpads and tendons of geckos that was invented by polymer scientist Alfred Crosby and his research group on campus, is now for sale at the University Store in the Campus Center, the first retail outlet in the nation to carry the UMass Amherst invention.
Rana Gupta, the strategy/finance/business development manager for Felsuma, the company formed to market Geckskin in April 2013, says, “It was very important to us to bring this home first. We feel the device has a bright future in university bookstores across the nation.”
In inventing Geckskin, Crosby and colleagues, working with biologist Duncan Irschick, an expert in how lizards climb and cling, set out to figure out what gives a five-ounce gecko the adhesive power to run up a wall and across the ceiling weighing roughly the equivalent of nine pounds without slipping or falling. This led the inventors to experiment with tremendous weights; for example, an early Geckskin device the size of an index card could hold a 700-pound weight mounted on smooth glass.
But, as Gupta explains, in practical terms when people want to hang something heavy like a TV or computer monitor on the wall, they secure it firmly and tend to leave it in place. By contrast, Geckskin’s strengths and uniquely useful features are related to the fact that it’s temporary and re-useable. Peeling it off won’t damage the surface or paint underneath, and it can be easily and quickly applied or moved uncounted numbers of times.
“We’re geckos,” quips Gupta, “We can go anywhere on the wall and jump off anytime we want to. There is no other technology like this anywhere in the world. The inventors proved something very important and created a completely new, truly revolutionary technology.”
The Felsuma executive says the company expects most users will employ Geckskin devices such as the Griptile, Griploop and Griphook to hold objects weighing one pound or less. “We think it will be ideal for student dorm rooms and young peoples’ first apartments because it’s low-cost, it can hold posters, calendars, lanyards, keys and ball caps for as short or long a time as you need but when it’s time to move, it won’t leave a mark behind or damage the surface at all.”
“If you don’t exceed the weight limit and there is a good grip at the surface, there is no reason for it to ever come down until you want it to,” he adds. Further, “We expect consumers will come up with all sorts of uses for the devices in the bathroom, kitchen and office as well as applications in remodeling and construction. It’s made of everyday materials in the United States, using standard manufacturing techniques, so it’s easy on the environment too.”
Geckskin has won awards as a top science breakthrough from CNN/Money/Fortune and attention from business leaders such as Bloomberg, International Business Times, MassHighTech, Huffington Post and Discover.