Most people who live in frozen areas in winter are aware of the risks of slippery ice. Falls are a very common form of injury in winter icy weather, but MIT has a new coating that can be applied to shoes to improve grip on smooth surfaces. The coating is inspired by Japan’s paper-cut art, which increases friction and allows shoes to have more grip on ice and other slippery surfaces.
The breakthrough is based on the Japanese paper-cut art “kirigami”, a variation of origami that includes paper-cut and origami. In laboratory tests, people who wore shoes coated with this material were able to produce more friction on the ice than shoes without it. Scientists say adding the coating to shoes helps prevent the risk of falling on ice and other dangerous surfaces, especially in the elderly.
The team applied the chic-inspired coating to shoes by cutting intricate spikes on plastic or metal sheets. These flakes are painted on the soles of the shoes and remain flat when the wearer is standing still. However, during the natural movement of the walk, the flakes pop.
During the study, the team created and tested several different designs, including repeated shoe-nail patterns shaped like squares, triangles, or curves. Each shape has also been tested in different sizes and arrangements, and these shapes are cut into pieces of plastic and stainless steel. The researchers measured friction on a variety of surfaces, including ice, wood, vinyl base plates and artificial turf.
The researchers found that all designs increased friction, with the pattern of concave curves producing the best friction. The team found that shoes with a coating were 20-35 percent more frictional than individual shoes. Currently, the team is looking at potential ways to commercialize the system.