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Friction

Keywords

friction, adhesion, incline, frictional adhesion, gecko

Abstract

Geckos’ ability to move on steep surfaces depends on their excellent adhesive structure, timely adjustments on locomotor behaviors, and elaborates control on reaction forces. However, it is still unclear how they can generate a sufficient driving force that is necessary for locomotion, while ensuring reliable adhesion on steep inclines. We measured the forces acting on each foot and recorded the contact states between feet and substrates when geckos encountered smooth inclination challenges ranging from 0° to 180°. The critical angles of the resultant force vectors of the front and hind-feet increased with respect to the incline angles. When the incline angle became greater than 120°, the critical angles of the front- and hind-feet were similar, and the averages of the critical angles of the front- and hind-feet were both smaller than 120°, indicating that the complicated and accurate synergy among toes endows gecko’s foot an obvious characteristic of “frictional adhesion” during locomotion. Additionally, we established a contact mechanical model for gecko’s foot in order to quantify the contribution of the frictional forces generated by the heel, and the adhesion forces generated by the toes on various inclines. The synergy between multiple contact mechanisms (friction or adhesion) is critical for the reliable attachment on an inclined surface, which is impossible to achieve by using a single-contact mechanism, thereby increasing the animal’s ability to adapt to its environment.

Publisher

Tsinghua University Press

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