Mimicking Mussel Proteins, Scientists Develop Super-Adhesive from Dopamine (10/20/2007)
Mimicking a protein secreted by mussels that allows the mollusk to stick to, well, just about anything, scientists have developed a new material from a dopamine-like molecule that can serve as a versatile adhesive coating.
|A mussel attached to a sheet of polytetrafluoroethylene, or Teflon. - Image courtesy of Haeshin Lee and Phillip Messersmith, Northwestern University|
In the 19 October issue of Science, biomedical engineer Haeshin Lee and his colleagues at Northwestern University reported that they made a diluted solution of levodopa, a small molecule that forms during the synthesis of dopamine, buffered to a pH matching the mussel's marine environment.
When the researchers then immersed metal, polymer and ceramic objects in the solution, they found that the objects were coated in a thin adhesive polymer film, with very little variation in coating thickness around the objects. In addition, the film adhered to complex and pattered surfaces equally.
While scientists have developed a number of adhesion methods in the laboratory, most have limited practical use.
The team wrote that their adhesive "is distinctive in its ease of application, use of simple ingredients and mild reaction conditions, applicability to many types of materials of complex shape, and for multiple end uses."
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the American Association for the Advancement of Science