Tough Hydrogels with Fast, Strong, and Reversible Underwater Adhesion Based on a Multiscale Design

Journal: Advanced Materials

Published: 2018-08-01

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201801884

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 9

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Research Highlight

Fish-inspired hydrogel sticks to the task underwater

© Prisma by Dukas/Getty

© Prisma by Dukas/Getty

A reversibly adhesive material inspired by a fish could be useful for wound healing and other biomedical applications. The material has been developed by researchers at Hokkaido University.

Hydrogels are tough, water-absorbent, biocompatible materials with great potential for wound dressings and tissue engineering. However, one desirable property they currently lack is the ability to adhere quickly, strongly and reversibly to another surface in a wet environment. A layer of water tends to become trapped between the two surfaces, slowing adhesion and weakening the bond.

Hokkaido researchers have overcome this limitation by mimicking the hexagonal pattern of water-draining channels found on the adhesive discs of clingfish, so called because they can firmly attach themselves to various surfaces.

Adding a millimetre-scale hexagonal pattern of grooves to the hydrogel surface resulted in rapid, strong adhesion between the hydrogel and various underwater surfaces, from glass to heart tissue. The adhesion properties were tuneable — smaller hexagons gave stronger adhesion, whereas larger hexagons were better suited to reversible bonding and detachment.

Supported content

  1. Advanced Materials 30, 1501884 (2018). doi: 10.1002/adma.201801884
Institutions Share
Hokkaido University, Japan 0.85
National Museum of Nature and Science (Kahaku), Japan 0.11
South China University of Technology (SCUT), China 0.04