NC State researchers create particles that can stick to nearly anything

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — N.C. State University researchers have figured out a way to create particles that can stick to almost anything.

They predict the particles could be used in a number of industries from agriculture to textiles.

N.C. State Professor Orlin Velev calls them “gecko leg particles.” He and his students create them by using a device which looks a little bit like a mixer.

Once the so-called “gecko leg particles” come out of the device they can stick to almost any surface — just like their namesake.

“The gecko leg analogy comes because gecko lizards are famous for their ability to be sticky in climbing a surface,” explained Velev.

Dr. Velev sees big possibilities for the particles in the textile industry. They make coatings that are either highly water repellent or very absorbent.

Different sides of the same material can even function differently.

“One side is completely repellent, and then If you turn it around you can see  the other side will absorb quickly the liquid,” said Velev.

“We are beginning collaboration with the cotton industry here in North Carolina. We have interest from the U.S. Army in order to treat garments to make them protective on the outside and wicking sweat on the inside, so we have lots of potential collaborators,” he added.

But first the researchers have to make large quantities of the particles and determine whether it’s economical.

The project recently received a grant from the N.C. State Chancellor’s Innovation Fund to produce the particles on a much larger scale.

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