Mussel-Inspired Self-Healing Hydrogels
Tech ID: 21753 / UC Case 2010-399-0
A method of forming self-healing polymer gels which composition is inspired by the dopa-containing adhesive protein used by mussels to adhere to inorganic surfaces. These gels present interesting rheological, universal adhesion and self-healing properties.
Materials undergoing physical stress in a variety of contexts, for example, handling mechanical loads or enduring fluctuating forces, fail because the stress permanently disrupts the intermolecular bonds within the material. Such stress is manifested in the formation of cracks in the material. Materials that can suppress macroscale catastrophic failure by forming energy-dissipative microtears that spontaneously self-heal would be well-suited for adhesive or coating applications in which materials are required to endure such stresses. There is, therefore, a growing demand for self-healing polymer materials that can be easily delivered, that solidify in situ to form strong and durable interfacial adhesive bonds, and that are resistant to the detrimental effects of water.
Niels Holten-Andersen, Ka Yee Lee, and Herbert Waite have developed a method of forming self-healing polymer gels in which a low pH aqueous solution containing the polymer and a metal are delivered into a higher pH aqueous environment, which induces immediate formation of the adhesive self-healing polymer gel. The composition of this gel is inspired by the dopa-containing adhesive protein used by mussels to adhere to inorganic surfaces. The oxygen ligands of the dopa-presenting polymers bind strongly to multivalent “hard” metals, such as Fe3+, Ti3+, and Al3+, to form crosslinked gels with interesting rheological properties, universal adhesion properties, and self-healing properties. The properties of the gels may be tuned by varying the pH of gelation, the metal used for crosslinking, or the polymer backbone.
- Consumer adhesives
- Bonding agents for implants
- Marine adhesives or coatings
- Drug delivery vehicles
- Holten-Andersen, Niels
- Waite, J. Herbert