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Open Access Publications from the University of California

High-performance mussel-inspired adhesives of reduced complexity

  • Author(s): Ahn, BK
  • Das, S
  • Linstadt, R
  • Kaufman, Y
  • Martinez-Rodriguez, NR
  • Mirshafian, R
  • Kesselman, E
  • Talmon, Y
  • Lipshutz, BH
  • Israelachvili, JN
  • Waite, JH
  • et al.

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Despite the recent progress in and demand for wet adhesives, practical underwater adhesion remains limited or non-existent for diverse applications. Translation of mussel-inspired wet adhesion typically entails catechol functionalization of polymers and/or polyelectrolytes, and solution processing of many complex components and steps that require optimization and stabilization. Here we reduced the complexity of a wet adhesive primer to synthetic low-molecular-weight catecholic zwitterionic surfactants that show very strong adhesion (∼50 mJm-2) and retain the ability to coacervate. This catecholic zwitterion adheres to diverse surfaces and self-assembles into a molecularly smooth, thin (<4 nm) and strong glue layer. The catecholic zwitterion holds particular promise as an adhesive for nanofabrication. This study significantly simplifies bio-inspired themes for wet adhesion by combining catechol with hydrophobic and electrostatic functional groups in a small molecule.

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