Ten Materials Inspired By Mother Nature (VIDEO)

The natural world is filled with strange, fascinating structures that are stronger, more flexible and more resilient than anything humans can make.

3. Mussel-inspired underwater glue

Photo: asands/Flickr/CC
Photo: asands/Flickr/CC

Mussel adhesion is undoubtedly one of the success stories of biomimetic materials. Mussels stick to submerged surfaces using protein-based adhesive threads called byssus that can withstand even the strongest waves. This adhesive functions naturally underwater, a property that is notoriously difficult to achieve in synthetic adhesives.

At the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), a team led by Professor Cha Hjung Joon and Associate Professor Dong Soo Hwang was one of the first groups to produce recombinant mussel adhesive proteins in the lab. They have been active in this area for more than a decade, with recent developments aimed at using them for soft tissue repair.

And at the Korea Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST), the group of Professor Lee Haeshin has pioneered the development of mussel-inspired biopolymers, demonstrating their use in a multitude of biomedical applications, such as muco-adhesives or as eco-friendly food packaging.

Ali Miserez is an assistant professor at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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