U.S. warfighters operate in all manner of environments, including tight urban terrain. The safety and effectiveness of the warfighter demand maximum flexibility for maneuvering and responding to circumstances. To overcome obstacles and secure entrance and egress routes, warfighters frequently rely on ropes, ladders and related climbing tools. Such climbing tools cost valuable time to use, have limited application and add to the load warfighters are forced to carry during missions. The Z-Man programs aims to develop biologically inspired climbing aids to enable warfighters to scale vertical walls constructed from typical building materials, while carrying a full combat load, and without the use of ropes or ladders.
Geckos, spiders and small animals are the inspiration behind the Z-Man program. These creatures scale vertical surfaces using unique systems that exhibit strong reversible adhesion via van der Waals forces or hook-into-surface asperities. Z-Man seeks to build synthetic versions of these biological systems, optimize them for efficient human climbing and use them as novel climbing aids.
“Geckskin” is one output of the Z-Man program. It is a synthetically-fabricated reversible adhesive inspired by the gecko’s ability to climb surfaces of various materials and roughness, including smooth surfaces like glass. Performers on Z-Man designed adhesive pads to mimic the gecko foot over multiple length scales, from the macroscopic foot tendons to the microscopic setae and spatulae, to maximize reversible van der Waals interactions with the surface.
Recent activities include:
Dr. Matthew Goodmanmatthew.firstname.lastname@example.org