Researchers hope to use the adhesives in manufacturing equipment, making grippers for manipulating huge solar panels, displays, and other objects without the need for suction power or chemical glues.
They are also working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to adapt the adhesive for use by robots, according to MIT Technology Review.
Gecko toes are incredibly sticky because they are covered with groups of long, thin spatula-shaped structures called setae that increase surface area and amplify weak electrical attractions between the toes and a surface.
Gecko feet stick well but are readily released when the animal shifts its weight; and of course, they can stick again and again, unlike most man-made adhesive tapes.
Earlier, the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced that its Z-Man programme had, for the first time, made a gecko-adhesive-based climbing system that enabled a person to scale a wall.
The Stanford University group, led by engineer Mark Cutkosky, which participated in the Z-Man work, has made a similar demonstration using its own adhesive system.
Researchers started with an existing adhesive based on molded micro-wedges made from a polymer material called PDMS.
They attached tiles of this material to a flat, hexagonal, hand-sized gripper. Each gripper was backed with a spring that distributed weight across the pad, and absorbed some of the force involved in climbing.
To make climbing easier, the researchers also linked the grippers to platform for a person's feet, thereby transferring the work of climbing to the legs.
The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.