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Enter into the ‘Sticky’ World of Bioadhesion!

SpecialChem – Apr 26, 2018

TAGS:  Natural-based Adhesives    

Enter into the ‘Sticky’ World of Bioadhesion!Nature produces a wide variety of glues. From mucus of snails to the bonding principle of orchids or the tree frogs, the scope of biological adhesives is not limited to only the gecko!

Many living creatures rely on concept of adhesion to survive in the world.

Such as:

  • Frogs use adhesion to climb plants 
  • Barnacles make use of this property to attach to the surface
  • Salamanders use glue as a defense against predators
  • While spiders/velvet worms use it as a means to attack
  • And many more… 

And, these creatures are now providing answers to meet technical challenges in applications ranging from underwater to bioengineering as well as industrial settings! Natural and bioinspired glues are also being considered for medical applications such as surgical adhesives and diabetes treatments.

However, even simple biological adhesives may require years of research to understand sufficiently to allow for mimicry.

COST CA 15216 - The European Network of Bioadhesion is one such organization where a group of scientists, engineers, physicians, SMEs, applied research organizations… is working to understand the basic principles governing biological adhesion by gathering knowledge about these materials:

  • Composition
  • Structural design and
  • Interactions with surfaces

The World of Bioadhesion

In the event held last year, Scientific Representative, Janek von Byern, in his presentation gave us quite a list, which he mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. These included:

  • Bacteria
  • Algae
  • Kelp
  • Cephalopod (one of the oldest animals)
  • Mussel
  • Barnacle
  • Sea cucumber
  • Sea star
  • Snails
  • Sandcastle worm
  • Jellyfish
  • Ticks
  • Salamander
  • Frog… and 100s more…

Biological Adhesives: Similarities & Differences

Similarities & Differences between Bio & Non-bio Adhesives
Similarities & Differences between Bio & Non-bio Adhesives

Janek spoke of 3 very interesting examples in particular. Let’s take a look!

Organism  Example Type Bond Strength Advantages Disadvantages
Substrate bonding < 2.28 MPa
  • Glue composition known - L-DOPA 
  • Stable & firm bonding
  • L-DOPA combinable with chemicals
  • Bonding ( > min.) on each surface type
  • Application - wound healing & cosmetics in pipeline
  • Bonding only on wet surfaces
  • Permanent bont
  • High production costs 
  • S. Korean patent on L-DOPA production
Glow Worm

Glow Worm

Prey capture < 0.005 MPa
  • Glue stable over weeks, bonding at contact only 
  • Bonding within seconds 
  • Bonding on any dry surface 
  • Few components only (urea…) 
  • Urea
  • Bonding with initial high amount of water (> 80% rH) 
  • Low bond strength 
  • Glue not characterized yet - 5-6 years more needed
Defense > 1.7 MPa
  • Bonding within milliseconds 
  • Bonding on most surfaces 
  • High bond strength 
  • Multi-component system 
  • Automatic water loss after curing
  • Protein-based glue 
  • Artificial production unclear
  • No bonding on hydrophobic surfaces 
  • Glue not characterized - 3-4 years more needed

Advantages & Disadvantages of Biological Adhesives

Glow Worm Biological Adhesive

And the best part is? They are all bio-degradable and non-toxic (except of course when nature intends them to be poisonous!)

  » Stay Connected and Check Out the developments in Bio-inspired Adhesives here!

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