Contaminant adhesion (aerial/ground biofouling) on the skin of a gecko

Watson, Gregory S., Cribb, Bronwen W., Schwarzkopf, Lin, and Watson, Jolanta A. (2015) Contaminant adhesion (aerial/ground biofouling) on the skin of a gecko. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12 (108). pp. 1-13.

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Abstract

In this study, we have investigated the micro- and nano-structuring and contaminant adhesional forces of the outer skin layer of the ground dwelling gecko-Lucasium steindachneri. The lizard's skin displayed a high density of hairs with lengths up to 4 μm which were spherically capped with a radius of curvature typically less than 30 nm. The adhesion of artificial hydrophilic (silica) and hydrophobic (C₁₈) spherical particles and natural pollen grains were measured by atomic force microscopy and demonstrated extremely low values comparable to those recorded on superhydrophobic insects. The lizard scales which exhibited a three-tier hierarchical architecture demonstrated higher adhesion than the trough regions between scales. The two-tier roughness of the troughs comprising folding of the skin (wrinkling) limits the number of contacting hairs with particles of the dimensions used in our study. The gecko skin architecture on both the dorsal and trough regions demonstrates an optimized topography for minimizing solid solid and solid liquid particle contact area, as well as facilitating a variety of particulate removal mechanisms including water-assisted processes. These contrasting skin topographies may also be optimized for other functions such as increased structural integrity, levels of wear protection and flexibility of skin for movement and growth. While single hair adhesion is low, contributions of many thousands of individual hairs (especially on the abdominal scale surface and if deformation occurs) may potentially aid in providing additional adhesional capabilities (sticking ability) for some gecko species when interacting with environmental substrates such as rocks, foliage and even man-made structuring.

Item ID: 41634
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: gecko, contamination, lizard, adhesion, biofouling, pollen
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ISSN: 1742-5662
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2015 18:40
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0601 Biochemistry and Cell Biology > 060101 Analytical Biochemistry @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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