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Carbon Nanotubes for Spider-Man Suit

September 2, 2007

Physicist models Spiderman suit (via PhysicsWord)

Geckos, spiders and the comic-book hero Spiderman seem to defy gravity by scurrying along smooth walls and ceilings. Now, a physicist in Italy claims that humans could soon do the same by donning a sticky “Spiderman suit” woven from carbon nanotubes. Nicola Pugno of the Politecnico di Torino in Italy has calculated that — assuming the material could actually be made — a person wearing the suit would be able to cling safely to smooth surfaces such as the side of a skyscraper (J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 19 395001).

Also reported by BBC News, ‘Spider-man’ suit secret revealed.

The toes of the gecko have attracted many researchers’ attention, since they can stick to a wide variety of surfaces, without the need of liquid or surface tension. It is suggested that this adhesion was due to van der Waar forces, a very week intermolecular forces, between the finely divided setae and the surfaces (ref). Besides the adhesive properties, two properies are needed for demonstrating the gecko’s toes, or a Spider-man suite: easy detachment from a surface after it has stuck and self-cleaning.

Pugno claims that such effects could be achieved by using carbon nanotubes as an artificial alternative to gecko’s setae. From his calculation, a thread made of carbon nanotunes about 1cm thick can support the weight of a man (70 kg) and a pair of gloves covered with them can support over 1000 kg.

Well, another promising application in cabron nanotubes amongst the already vast proposals. Maybe they can also consult Lady Edna (Edna ‘E’ Mode) about how to make supersuit. πŸ˜‰

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimiko permalink
    September 2, 2007 12:11 pm

    But would it still work if the skyscraper’s windows haven’t been washed in a while..?

  2. September 2, 2007 12:55 pm

    Certainly no problem for geckos climbing up the skyscraper’s dirty windows. As for carbon-nanotube spider-man suit πŸ™„ …

    Anyway, no matter Pugno’s claim can be proved or not, this can be an example of how to attract the media’s attention. πŸ˜‰ Like connecting the cloaking technology to Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak:
    Invisibility Cloak Unveiled in the US (PhysicsWorld)
    Experts Testing Cloaking Technology (BBC News)


  1. Carbon nanotube for Anti-ballistic Clothing « Entangled

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