Inspired by the tiny foot hairs that allow geckos to run up walls and across ceilings, Ali Dhinojwala fixed tiny carbon tubes to the surface of flexible plastic to create tape that can support hundreds of pounds of weight. The new adhesive, which has resulted in two National Science Foundation grants, could be used underwater or in space because its bond works totally differently from the glue used today.
Spider silk muscles
By bundling threads of spider silk 50 times thinner than human hair into thin ropes, Todd Allen Blackledge and Ali Dhinojwala created a muscle to do some serious heavy lifting. The UA professors believe that larger cords of spider silk, which expands and contracts with extreme force as humidity levels change, could repeatedly lift a 10-ton truck. The technology could perform strenuous robotic lifting without using motor and generate energy in environments with regular daily fluctuations in humidity.