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Could Frog Feet Point to Next Tire Innovation?

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The biology of tree frogs could provide innovative solutions to tire design problems, according to a Scottish academic.

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"Tree frog feet may provide a design for self-cleaning sticky surfaces, which could be useful for…tire performance and even long lasting adhesives," said Niall Crawford a researcher at the University of Glasgow.

“Interestingly the same factors that allow tree frogs to cling on also provide a self-cleaning service. To make their feet sticky tree frogs secrete mucus, they can then increase their adhesion by moving their feet against the surface to create friction,” Crawford claimed. “We have now shown that the mucus combined with this movement allows the frogs to clean their feet as they walk.”

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White’s tree frogs also have tiny hexagonal patterns on their feet, he pointed out, which allow some parts of the pad to remain in contact with the surface and create friction, whilst the channels between allow the mucus to spread throughout the pad. This mucus at once allows the frog to stick and then, when they move, also carries away any dirt. If this can be translated into a man-made design it could provide a re-useable, effective adhesive.

Crawford made his remarks at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow on July 3. (Tyres & Accessories)

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The humble tree frog could provide inspiration for the next generation of tires.

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