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Super Suction

The clinging power of octopus tentacles has inspired a breakthrough adhesive patch that works on wet and oily surfaces with potentially huge medical and industrial uses, according to South Korean researchers.

Octopuses are among the most intelligent and behaviorally diverse of all invertebrates, but it was their extreme strength that attracted the interest of the research team from Sungkyunkwan University. “Two years ago, we bought an octopus from a Lotte Supermarket, put its suction cups under a microscope and analyzed how they worked,” researcher Baik Sang-yul said.

The team found the octopus’ impressive suction power was generated by small balls inside the suction cups that line each tentacle. The new “wet-tolerant” adhesive patch has been hailed as a breakthrough by the country’s Science and Technology Ministry, and there are hopes it will be used for everything from heavy industry to dressing wounds.

Professor Pang Chang-hyun said polymer patches covered with micro suction cups are so strong that a patch the size of a thumbnail can lift an object weighing up to 400 grams in water. One patch can survive more than 10,000 cycles of attachment and detachment.  Agence France-Presse

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