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Sunday, 22 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies

High-performance mussel-inspired adhesives of reduced complexity

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Despite the recent progress in and demand for wet adhesives, practical underwater adhesion remains limited or non-existent for diverse applications.

A mussel uses its filamentous byssal threads to attach to wet surfaces. Source: Kolbe Ahn

A mussel uses its filamentous byssal threads to attach to wet surfaces. Source: Kolbe Ahn

Translation of mussel-inspired wet adhesion typically entails catechol functionalisation of polymers and/or polyelectrolytes, and solution processing of many complex components and steps that require optimisation and stabilisation.

Sticky breakthrough

Researchers from Marine Science Institute, University of California, reduced the complexity of a wet adhesive primer to synthetic low-molecular-weight catecholic zwitterionic surfactants that show very strong adhesion (~50 mJ m−2) and retain the ability to coacervate. This catecholic zwitterion adheres to diverse surfaces and self-assembles into a molecularly smooth, thin (<4 nm) and strong glue layer. The catecholic zwitterion holds particular promise as an adhesive for nanofabrication. This study significantly simplifies bio-inspired themes for wet adhesion by combining catechol with hydrophobic and electrostatic functional groups in a small molecule.

The study is published in: Nature Communications 6, 2015.

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