Spiders Inspire Glues that Stick When Wet

August
2018

Moisture is the enemy of synthetic adhesives, often causing paint to peel and bandages to loosen. This is not the case, however, for many biological adhesives found in nature. Various organisms deploy adhesives in humid environments or even under water to capture prey, defend themselves from predators, and build nests. Some species of spiders that live in wet habitats produce aggregate glue that actually adheres better at humidities above 90% relative humidity (RH).

The natural marvel of biological glues inspired researchers at the Univ. of Akron’s Biomimicry Research Innovation Center (BRIC). They theorized that a deeper understanding of the adhesive properties of spider glue under different humidity conditions would enable them to create better synthetic adhesives and coatings for a variety of applications. Saranshu Singla, a research assistant at BRIC, examined the aggregate glue produced by the orb spider.

Spider silk is comprised of aggregate glue droplets that are regularly spaced on a flagelliform thread, an arrangement dubbed a...

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