Zwitterionic Nano-Adhesives for Improved Wet-Adhesion

Tech ID: 24994 / UC Case 2015-581-0

Brief Description

An atomically smooth thin (< 2 nm) glue layer on various surfaces including mica, silicon wafers, and copper. 


Despite recent advancements for wed-adhesions, practical underwater adhesion has its limitations for many applications including patching up ship hulls, assembling electronics, and healing surgical wounds. Scientists have recently overcome these limitations by utilizing certain proteins found in mussels. Cathecholic zwitterionic molecules that used to achieve a very strong wet-adhesion, are adaptable for diverse surfaces as adhesives and at multiple length-scales, and hold particular promise for nanofabrication.


Researchers at UC Santa Barbara have utilized catecholic zwitterionic molecules to form an atomically smooth thin (<2nm) glue layer on various surfaces including mica, silicon wafers, and copper. These molecules allow for strong adhesion by being held together by hydrophobic reactions with the surrounding liquid. By combining Dopa content with hydrophobic and electrostatic functionalities, scientists are able to tune the performance of both coacervatioin and adhesion. This method can be applied for nanofabrications in electronics where micrometer-thick glue layers are unacceptable.


  • Adaptable for diverse surfaces at multiple wavelengths
  • Atomically smooth adhesive (< 4 nm)
  • Very strong wet-adhesion (47mJ/m2, the highest value to date)


  • Electronics, including Li-Ion batteries
  • Medical adhesives
  • Ship repair

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Published Application 20-0181455 06/11/2020 2015-581


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  • Ahn, Byung Jun K.
  • Waite, J Herbert

Other Information


indadhesive, underwater, mussel, glue

Categorized As