After getting inspired from spider Silk, researchers are trying to develop more efficient and stronger commercial and biomedical adhesives that could, for example, potentially attach tendons to bones or bind fractures.
The Akron scientists created synthetic duplicates of the super-sticky, silk "attachment discs" that spiders use to attach their webs to surfaces. These discs are created when spiders pin down an underlying thread of silk with additional threads, like stiches or staples, explains Ali Dhinojwala, UA's H.A. Morton professor of polymer science and lead researcher on the project.
This "staple-pin" geometry of the attachment disc creates a strong attachment force using little material, he adds.
Through electrospinning, a process by which an electrical charge is used to draw very fine fibers from a liquid (in this case, polyurethane), Dhinojwala and his team were able to mimic the efficient staple-pin design, pinning down an underlying nylon thread with the electrospun fibers.
"This adhesive architecture holds promise for potential applications in the area of adhesion science, particularly in the field of biomedicine where the cost of the materials is a significant constraint," the authors wrote.
Dhinojwala adds that the design could potentially be used, in addition to medical applications, to create commercial adhesives stronger than conventional glue and tape.
The study has been published online in the Journal of Polymer Physics.