It is well known that orb-weaving spiders put droplets of adhesive all over their webs to catch prey. Although there have been many attempts to study the nature of these adhesives, it is only recently that experiment designs have allowed the mechanism of adhesion to be analysed properly. Single adhesive droplets have been probed at varying extension rates.
“Here, by directly probing single adhesive droplets used by spiders, we demonstrate the importance of the mechanics of adhesive in dramatically enhancing adhesion. We show that glue drops function as a viscoelastic material instead of as a viscous material and that the elasticity of the principle adhesive in this system, the glycoproteins, increases adhesion by two orders of magnitude in comparison with capillary forces, thus putting to rest the old notion of the adhesive being viscous.”
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