Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Purdue researcher applies research on mussels to develop water-resistant adhesive


By David Schwartz
Published: April 8th, 2015

A Purdue University chemist has used his research on mussels and oysters to develop an adhesive that could help bond items in wet or moist conditions, such as human tissue or underwater construction.

Jonathan Wilker, professor of chemistry and materials engineering, designed the adhesive to imitate components used by mussels in their natural adhesives. “A lot of the chemistry involved in the animals’ adhesive is protein-based, but no one is going to be able to make a complicated protein for large-scale applications,” says Wilker. “So we are substituting simple polymers for the proteins while maintaining other aspects of the adhesive chemistry.”

Wilker says the adhesive can be easy to generate on large scales and yet still maintain the functions they are aiming for. It can also be developed from renewable resources, whereas conventional adhesives are made from petroleum feedstocks and can release toxic materials in the air.

Wilker and his research team have created a platform technology that industry partners could develop in several ways, he asserts. “We can design certain characteristics into the adhesive, but we won’t be able to focus on a specific product for a specific application,” says Wilker. “It’s possible that we could connect with different companies that can develop the materials for several sectors including aeronautical or automotive manufacturing, biomedical joining of tissues, construction, coatings and cosmetics.”

Source: MarketWatch

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