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Wet Adhesives

July 31, 2017

Scientists design an adhesive that works in wet conditions based on slug slime.



Slug glue. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Anyone who’s tried to glue two surfaces together knows that it’s darn near impossible to make them stick if they’re wet. But doctors need wound dressings to stay put and to repair moist tissues during surgery. Current options, such as superglue, perform poorly and are toxic. But now, scientists are looking to the lowly slug for inspiration. Harvard bioengineer David Mooney and his team write in the journal Science that the slug’s mucus has a strong positive charge that sticks nicely to anything with a negative charge.

DAVID MOONEY (Harvard University):

They actually can adhere quite tightly to what they’re moving against. They manage to have this really nice adhesion that’s also very stable in the presence of water.


These properties have inspired the development of a new adhesive. Preliminary tests suggest that it’s well-tolerated and holds up under wet conditions. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.