Mechanisms of gecko adhesion revealed

In 2012, Duncan J. Irschick and Alfred Crosby from UMass Amherst, USA, together with Walter Federle, University of Cambridge, UK, were awarded an HFSP Research Grant to investigate which kind of adhesive mechanisms animals such as geckos use when climbing smooth surfaces. In particular, they were interested in the underlying anatomy of insect and gecko toepads, which work in concert with the setal hair-like designs that are observed in Nature. These sub-surface and internal structures, particularly with regards to stiffness and resilience, represent critical ingredients for adhesion and were the main objectives of study for the team.

For more details read the UMASS press release

The topic received quite a lot of media attention including an article on the BBC Earth website:
New secret of gecko stickiness revealed