Sticking things together underwater is no easy feat; water is often a glue’s worst enemy. Now, scientists from Wageningen University and Research have created an injectable adhesive that can bond to surfaces underwater.
Often, water weakens the mechanical properties of an adhesive and prohibits any good, solid contact with the surface. This has been a challenge that many researchers are struggling to overcome in the injectable adhesives market. Success in this market could benefit the human body and promote soft tissue repair and wound closure, where glues could potentially take over suturing and stapling methods for surgeons.
Pressure-sensitive adhesives work on almost any dry surface, but once water makes its mark, the adhesive loses its performance capability. However, this challenge was solved naturally by mussels and sandcastle worms who release a fluid phase underwater, which hardens due to a change in the environmental conditions, allowing the mussel or sandcastle worm to attach to different surfaces.
Now, researchers are using inspiration from these creatures to inspire the development of a glue that addresses many of the challenges associated with underwater adhesion.
The adhesive was created by mixing aqueous solutions of oppositely charge polymers modified with thermosensitive units. At room temperature the glue is liquid-like, but when the temperature rises above 32 degrees C, it immediately turns into a solid. In turn, when the thermoresponsive chains unite and collapse, it makes the adhesive much stronger.
After testing the glue, the glue showed great promise in adhesive properties and could stick to surfaces like glass, Teflon, or charged surfaces. This glue could be a candidate for gluing tissues inside the body, where the temperature of the internal body would immediately trigger the glue to solidify without needing additional chemical elements.
Additionally, the glue is easy to inject since it has such low viscosity at room temperature and will not disperse in a fluid environment because it’s water-immiscible.
Currently, the researchers are working on optimizing the material properties to guarantee better performance. This would allow them to start testing the glue’s adhesiveness on real biological tissues.
Filed Under: TECHNOLOGIES + PRODUCTS, Materials • advanced