Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Evidence that gecko setae are coated with an ordered nanometer-thin lipid film



Cherno Jaye, Daniel A. Fischer, Mette Rasmussen, Katinka Holler, Joe Baio, Stanislav Gorb, Tobias Weidner


Motivated by the fascination of gecko adhesion based on the fibrous setae at the tips of their toe pads and their potential for biomimetic applications, the adhesion mechanism has been studied in detail. While the mechanism has been shown to be based on van- der-Waals interactions of myriads of spatula at the distal part of setal arrays, there are still open questions about the molecular structure of gecko setae. Recently it has been shown that phospholipids are associated with the spatula surface. However, the extent, to which spatula and setae are coated with lipids, as well as the structure of lipids at the spatula surface are still unclear. Since lipids can modulate adhesion properties and surface hydrophobicity and can therefore play an important role in adhesion, we have studied the molecular structure of lipids at spatula surfaces using near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) imaging. Nitrogen and carbon K-edge spectra showed that a mere nanometer-thin layer of lipids is present at the spatula surface. Angle-resolved NEXAFS images provide evidence that the lipids are forming ordered, densely packed layers. Dense lipid layers can effectively render surface hydrophobicity and may play a key role for the gecko adhesive system by enhancement of hydrophobic-hydrophobic interactions with potential substrates.
Biology Letters


Adhesion, friction, attachment, toe pad, reptiles, integument, NEXAFS spectro-microscopy, biotribology


Jaye, C. , Fischer, D. , Rasmussen, M. , Holler, K. , Baio, J. , Gorb, S. and Weidner, T. (2022), Evidence that gecko setae are coated with an ordered nanometer-thin lipid film, Biology Letters, [online],, (Accessed June 16, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created June 9, 2022, Updated December 31, 2022