An Easy Home Made Electroadhesive

There was a time when if you wanted to scale a wall you had to turn a camera on its side and call [Adam West] or [Lionel Ritchie]. Unless you were a gecko, that is. Their host of tiny bristles and intramolecular forces allow them to run up walls and across the ceiling with ease.

You may have seen synthetic gecko-like adhesive surfaces using the same effect. Some impressive wall-climbing robots have used these materials, though they’ve all shared the same problem. Gecko adhesion can’t be turned off. Happily, for the robot wall climber unwilling to expend the extra force to detach a foot there is an alternative approach. Electroadhesives use electrostatic force to attach a plate held at a high potential to a surface, and today’s featured video is [Carter Hurd]’s home-made electroadhesive panel (YouTube).

He cites this paper and this description of the technology as the influences on his design, two aluminium foil electrodes sandwiched between plastic sheet and sticky tape. He applies 6kV from an Emco DC to DC converter to his plates, and as if by magic it sticks to his drywall. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that, he tried several surfaces before finding the one it stuck to. Adhesion is fully under control, and such a simple device performs surprisingly well. The Emco converters are sadly not cheap, but they are an extremely efficient product for which he only needs a few AA cells on the low voltage side.

His full description is in the video below the break.

We’ve looked at this effect before, with this high voltage bulletin board, and these electrostatic Post-It notes. We’ve also featured gecko-inspired adhesion, with this strong little robot.

16 thoughts on “An Easy Home Made Electroadhesive

      1. My full apologies, this comment was somehow left in the wrong article, I don’t really understand how that happened.

        AltaPowderDog, I am sorry that happened, you shared a pretty cool project. Bob, thanks for your civility. ben, thanks for the spelling lesson, I am working on that one, and I do feel somewhat of an idiot.

        Take care,


  1. Very cool! Everyone knows about static electricity, but I have never considered that a converter like that could create the same effect. I’d like to try.

    Additionally, taking the paper off a sheet of foam board can generate enough static to stick the foam board to the wall for days, with an initial holding force in the hundreds of grams.

  2. Bah, you don’t need an expensive emco DC-DC converter to make an electroadhesive pad. A cheap $3 chinese ionizer module will do the same thing for much less. Simply use the ionizer as negative and positive battery terminal as positive I will post pictures of the one I made later.

    Second, for electroadhesive pads it is better to go with lower voltages, 2-3 KV rather than 6 KV. Higher voltages tend to arc through the dielectric and ionize air. You could use a thicker dielectric, but that decreases force. Arcing through is especially a problem if you intend to use said pad on metal surfaces. Ionizing air means more leakage and power consumption.

    Also, when playing around with high voltage power supplies, it is best to keep them away from sensitive electronic devices like cellphones, computers, USB drives, etc.

  3. Hard to tell, really, but that looks more like old plaster-lath walls to me, not drywall. Any opinions? More importantly I’m surprised he didn’t try walking it down the wall by just switching it on and off. Is there a way to partly reverse polarity to immediately free the sheets evenly? It looked like just power-off led to some uneven adhesion that caused rotation, which might mess up a walk-down.

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