Breaking the Wall of Super Materials : How Biology Inspires Nanomechanics

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  • The elasticity of blood vessels, the self-healing properties of bone, the strength of nacre, the smart adhesion of gecko feet, the self-cleaning quality of the lotus leaf, the resistance of the spiderweb: in such myriad ways, biology offers endless inspiration to nanomechanics. Nicola Pugno, an engineer and physicist at Universit√† di Trento, Italy, has generated news-worthy research on a hierarchical nanotube or graphene adhesive system, which is strong enough to suspend a person's full body weight from any ceiling or wall, while also being easily detachable. Recipient of a 2011 Starting Grant from the European Research Council, Pugno is the founder and head of the Laboratory of Bio-Inspired Nanomechanics and the author of nearly 200 papers on various fields of mechanics, published in leading international journals. In this Falling Walls lecture, he presents the wondrous results from his acclaimed research on bio-inspired nanomaterials - likely to make him the next idol of Spider-Man fans worldwide.


  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on August 10, 2013.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Part of the Falling Walls conference.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.


  • Strength of Graphene Nanotubes (1:37) -- A Space Elevator (1:48) -- Spiraling a Graphene Core (1:02) -- Toughness of a Spider Web (2:17) -- Impact of a Localized Load (1:04) -- The Super Adhesion of Gecko Feet (1:30) -- Spatula Foot Formation (2:26) -- The Super Hydrophobic Lotus Effect (1:52) -- Credits: Breaking the Wall of Super Materials: How Biology Inspires Nanomechanics (0:37)
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