Mussel Power

Mussels can generate their own self-healing sticky material, which allows them to attach to rocks and to repair microtears caused by breaking waves and sand abrasion, but the elastic gel attached to this one was created in the laboratory.

Scientists can now manufacture a synthetic version of the self-healing sticky substance that mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks in pounding ocean surf and surging tidal basins. A patent is pending on the substance, whose potential applications include use as an adhesive or coating for underwater machinery or in biomedical settings as a surgical adhesive or bonding agent for implants.

Inspiring the invention were the hair-thin holdfast fibers that mussels secrete to stick against rocks in lakes, rivers and oceans. “Everything amazingly just self-assembles underwater in a matter of minutes, which is a process that’s still not understood that well,” said Niels Holten-Andersen, a postdoctoral scholar with chemistry professor Ka Yee Lee at the University of Chicago.

Holten-Andersen, Lee and an international team of colleagues are publishing the details of their invention this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition. Holten-Andersen views the evolution of life on Earth as “this beautiful, amazingly huge experiment” in which natural selection has enabled organisms to evolve an optimal use of materials over many millions of years.

via Universal solvent no match for new self-healing sticky gel.

This entry was posted in Chemistry, Wild Life. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mussel Power

  1. alfy says:

    The technical name for the strands anchoring mussels are, “the byssus”, a Greek-derived term meaning, “threads of flax”. They are black and incredibly tough if you have ever tried detaching mussels from their anchorage. Being tough but flexible helps the mussels to cling on to the rocks of the inter-tidal region where they are subject to continual wave-action for around 12 hours in 24.

Comments are closed.