Adhesive disc from Harvard and Beihang University has thousands of fiber spinules on a rubber base that enables it to attach to a variety of surfaces underwater.


  • Versatile
  • Waterproof


  • Robotics
  • Autonomous underwater vehicles

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Underwater exploration is challenging due to the ocean’s many variables and often harsh conditions. Underwater robots require energy to execute their missions. The ability to adhere to marine life could minimize their energy requirements and offer a method to better study marine animal activities.

Innovation Details

The adhesive disc is made of a piece of rubber that is laser cut to resemble the sucker fish suction disc. It then has thousands of fiber spinules attached to the rubber. Additionally, there are six air pouches that can be inflated or deflated on demand by a small air pump. Underwater, it can attach to a variety of surfaces just by pressing against the object and manipulating the air pouches.

Biomimicry Story

Remoras, also called sucker fish, use a unique dorsal fin to temporarily attach to other sea creatures so they can hitchhike around the ocean. The dorsal fin is made of a soft tissue with tiny spinules that can be bent and maneuvered to fit the shape of the target host, such as a shark. The disk enables the remora to ride along despite high magnitudes of fluid shear.