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Shocking! Geckos Use Static Electricity to Stick to Walls

A new study claims that static electricity is the primary reason geckos can climb up smooth surfaces.
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Geckos do lots of amazing things, like climb up walls and save you money on your car insurance. But how exactly do they scale smooth, vertical surfaces? It's a question that scientists thought they had settled a long time ago. Now, a new paper claims that electrostatic forces are the main way that geckos adhere to walls. Before, many scientists attributed the lizard's stickiness to the van der Waals forces that it creates: intermolecular attractions between the tiny hairs on a gecko's feet and the surface it walks on. A new study from Yale researcher Hadi Izadi, however, claims that static electricity is the main thing that keeps geckos from falling. When a gecko climbs up a wall, electrons leave its feet, creating a positively charged gecko and a negatively charged surface. Not every scientist, however, agrees with Izadi, creating a sticky situation for researchers to resolve in the future.


-Keith Wagstaff