The development of future technology depends more on research of new materials. The world wants an ideal adhesive that does not wear under harsh environments. A team of engineers from Purdue University were able to do just that with a nature-mimicking underwater glue.
Scientists, inspired by substances shellfish create to stick to surfaces, have developed a super strong adhesive that works under water. The bio-based glue performed better than 10 commercial adhesives when used to bond polished aluminum.
The team studied the behavior of the shellfish, from which Jonathan Wilker, professor of chemistry and materials engineering at Purdue concluded that our wet bonding problems were solved by nature “eons ago.”
The professor said, “Mussels, barnacles, and oysters attach to rocks with apparent ease. In order to develop new materials able to bind within harsh environments, we made a biomimetic polymer that is modeled after the adhesive proteins of mussels.”
Scientists said, “It is the only adhesive of those tested that worked with wood and far out-performed the other adhesives when used to join Teflon.”
Assistant professor Jonathan Wilker said, “We are focusing on catechols given that the animals use this type of chemistry so successfully. Poly(catechol-styrene) is looking to be, possibly, one of the strongest underwater adhesives found to date.”
“While most adhesives interact with water instead of sticking to surfaces. The catechol groups may have a special talent for “drilling down” through surface waters to bind onto surfaces.”
The important aspects of mussel adhesion is also revealed by this study. It manages its attachment within their wet and salty environment. In addition, it also proves as 17 times stronger than the natural adhesive produced by mussels.
If further research on the adhesive material is effective, manufacturing techniques as we know today will change a lot. The glue would be particularly useful in underwater explorations where holes may appear in vehicles that need to be patched.
The research was published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.