Superstrong, reversible adhesive that works like snail slime

ScienceDaily | 6/17/2019 | Staff
blacky (Posted by) Level 3
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Such adhesion has eluded scientists for years but is naturally found in snail slime.

A snail's epiphragm -- a slimy layer of moisture that can harden to protect its body from dryness -- allows the snail to cement itself in place for long periods of time, making it the ultimate model in adhesion that can be switched on and off as needed.

Study - Penn - Engineers - Adhesive - Mechanisms

In a new study, Penn Engineers demonstrate a strong, reversible adhesive that uses the same mechanisms that snails do.

Shu Yang, professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, led the study along with Hyesung Cho, a postdoctoral researcher in Yang's lab who is now at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, and Penn Engineering graduate students Gaoxiang Wu and Jason Christopher Jolly. Lab member Yuchong Gao participated in the research as well. The team also included collaborators from Lehigh University: Engineering professor Anand Jagota, postdoctoral researcher Zhenping He, and graduate student Nicole Fortoul.

Study - Proceedings - National - Academy - Sciences

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Yang and her lab members have a history of translating what nature creates through evolution into the lab setting. Yang has led studies on nanoscale structures inspired by giant clams, butterflies, and pollen, and is the director of AESOP, the Center for Analyzing Evolved Structures as Optimized Products, which aims to apply bioinspired properties to design and architecture.

Yang - Lab - Adhesives - While - Model

According to Yang, she and her lab have been interested in adhesives for a while, but the predominant model for reversible adhesives in the natural world, geckos, weren't getting them far enough:

"Geckos can put one hand down and then release it, so the gecko's adhesion is reversible, but it's very low adhesion," Yang says. "A gecko is 50 grams, and a human is at least 50 kilograms. If...
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