UROP Project

Biomimicry of the adhesive organs of stick insects



Daniel Holder

Program Director UROP


+49 241 80-90695


Key Info

Basic Information

Project Offer-Number:
Organisation unit:
Institute for Biology II
Language Skills:
- English, (German)
Computer Skills:
- Experience in Exel is desirable


Adhesive organs enable insects to cling to various substrates even during rapid locomotion. In this process a very fast but reliable change of adhesion and detachment is realised. To reveal the detailed underlying mechanisms of this impressive performance we analyse at our institute the fibrous ultrastructure, the physical properties, the adhesion force and the detachment process of the adhesive organs of the stick insect Carausius morosus. Based on these data we attempt to fabricate a fibre reinforced artificial adhesion organ, which develops high adhesion forces to substrates of different roughness and which can easily be detached if desired. In the UROP RWTH project we will continue the analysis of the morphology and the adhesion of the adhesion organs of stick insects and perhaps we will start to copy the adhesion organ technically. For the morphological analysis we will use SEM (scanning electron microscopy) to get detailed insights into the branching of the fibres in the arolium. For the analyses of the adhesion force, measurements on stick insects will be carried out. These analyses will be carried out with a vertical and a horizontal centrifugation assay using polishing papers of different roughness as substrates. In order to find appropriate adhesion materials for the construction of an artificial adhesion organ we will measure the adhesive force of very flexible hydrocolloids (gels made out of special polysaccharides and water) on epoxy resin replicas of different roughness. To produce suitable fibres for the fibre-reinforced material we momentary elaborate an electrospinning set-up at our institute. Electrospinning is a method for the generation of ultra thin (< 1 µm) fibres. With this set-up we plan to spin three dimensional networks of parallel oriented fibres. The interspaces between these fibres shall be filled with the adhesion material. If you are specially interested in a Finite Element Modulation of the fibrous inner structure of the adhesion organ of stick insects contact us, too.


- Measurement of the adhesion force of stick insects - Measurement of the adhesion force of artificial adhesion materials - Cutting of semi thin cross sections for SEM analysis


- Handling of insects is essential - Experience in SEM and handling of a microtome is desirable but not essential