Scientists create glue inspired by mussels and shells

Scientists managed to reproduce the key characteristics of the glue of shells and mussels - protein threads, chemical

"Stitching" and bonding with iron.The result is a powerful, non-toxic adhesive that sets and works just as well under water as it does under dry conditions. It is also stronger than most synthetic adhesives on the market today.

“The composite we created not only performs better underwater than most adhesives available today. Very little is needed, ”the scientists note.

Mussels secrete byssus.These are the strong protein strands that some bivalve molluscs produce. The protein material secreted by the byssus gland has a liquid form when it is excreted and hardens, having already entered the water. The tensile strength of such threads in most species of mollusks is in the range of 13-26 MPa (133-266 kgf / cm²). Such precipitates form polymers that are embedded in surfaces and chemically crosslinked to enhance bonding. Mussels also secrete iron complexes that enhance the cohesive force of the byssus.

Scientists have replicated these characteristics in a new material made from silk fibroin protein extracted from a silkworm cocoon. Biologists also added polydopamine and iron to the new glue.

“As a result, we got a glue that, even under a microscope, looks like its natural counterpart,” the scientists note.

Getting the Right Silk Fibroin Blend,polydopamine and acidic conditions of curing with iron ions was critical for the adhesive to set and work under water, reaching a strength of 2.4 MPa (24 kgf / cm²) while resisting shear forces. This is better than most experimental and commercial adhesives on the market and only slightly lower than the strongest underwater adhesive at 2.8 MPa. However, the advantage of the novelty is that it is non-toxic, consists of completely natural materials and requires only 1-2 mg per square centimeter to achieve this adhesion - that's just a few drops.

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kgf / cm² - kilogram of force per square centimeter

MPa - megapascal

Cohesion is a bond between identical molecules (atoms, ions) inside the body within the same phase. Cohesion characterizes the strength of the body and its ability to withstand external influences.