Underwater Adhesive Tech Inspired by Mussels

And now it's moving to the market.

A mussel holds onto a Teflon sheet by a tiny strand.
A mussel holds onto a Teflon sheet by a tiny strand.
Mussel Polymers Inc.

A novel underwater adhesive technology, based on a glue used naturally by marine creatures, soon may provide a safer adhesive option for industries ranging from biomedical to aerospace.

Mussel Polymers Inc. (MPI), a startup created by Wardenclyffe Chemicals Inc., a technology development company, has licensed this patented adhesive technology from the Purdue Research Foundation. The technology was created by Jonathan Wilker, a Purdue professor of chemistry and materials engineering, with students in his laboratory.

The adhesive is called poly(catechol-styrene), or PCS. It was engineered to mimic the glue that mussels naturally use to attach to substrates in the ocean, and represents the first new adhesive chemistry to reach the market in decades.

The research effort that led to the development of PCS lasted over a decade and was supported with $2 million from the Office of Naval Research.

"We have been studying sea creatures, how they stick, and designing synthetic mimics of these materials," Wilker said. "Now we are quite excited to move these new materials from the research lab into the marketplace. There is potential here to impact several industries, including products that people use in their daily lives."

The team behind Mussel Polymers Inc. licensed the technology through the Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization. 

"The entire Purdue Research Foundation and OTC teams were extraordinary in helping us move through the process of licensing this technology, laying the groundwork for taking it to market," said George Boyajian, CEO of Wardenclyffe. "The adhesive technology addresses a range of previously unsolvable wet adhesion problems in a variety of industries from biomedical to aerospace to automotive to cosmetics and construction."

Brooke Beier, vice president of the Office of Technology Commercialization, said, "The Mussel Polymers team has done the research and has the resources to take this novel Purdue technology to the next level through the market to industries and customers. It is another success story from the Purdue commercialization ecosystem."

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org.

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