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Electric Glue: Another twist to make controlled polymer-surface adhesion

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Adhesion between the two surfaces depends on surface properties of adhering materials. It is the surface energy (surface tension) which controls the adhesion or the stickiness. One can manipulate the surface chemistry and thereby the interfacial interactions between the two surfaces by nano-scale surface design.

In a recent paper published in Nano Letters, Professor Hermann Gaub’s group at the Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich (Germany) experimentally showed how polymer-surface non-covalent interactions can be manipulated by an externally controlled potential in electric glue.   

The team studied three different types of polymers: the neutral polyethylene glycol, 2,2-ionene (containing a positively charged backbone) and a negatively charged biopolymer (DNA) where 3 of the 4 bases contain primary amines.   Experiment was done between three different polymers and gold electrode.  The work is significant as this could open up innovative application possibilities such as biosensors.

What could we expect in the near future exploiting this knowledge?  Possibly, an electric glue design that could be reversible in its bonding properties as required. In other words, the glue could be activated or inactivated utilizing the applied electric potential [please see article at Nano Werk: ]

[References: A.R. Fornof, M. Erdmann, R. David, and H.E. Gaub;  Nano Lett., 11 (5), pp 1993–1996 (2011)]

DOI: 10.1021/nl200353h