Waterproof superglue may be strongest in nature

Bacterial adhesive is 2-3 times stronger than common commercial glues

The glue one species of water-loving bacteria uses to grip its surroundings may be the strongest natural adhesive known to science. If engineers can find a way to mass-produce the material, it could have uses in medicine, marine technology and a range of other applications.

Researchers at Indiana University in Bloomington and Brown University in Providence, R.I., studied how much force they needed to tug the tiny, stalked Caulobacter crescentus off a glass plate. As the researchers reported in the Apr. 11, 2006, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the bacteria grip with a force of 70 newtons per square millimeter--roughly 5 tons per square inch--or equivalent to the downward force exerted by three cars balancing on a spot the size of a quarter. While the researchers do not yet know if the substance is the strongest glue on Earth, it is stronger than cyanoacrylate superglues found on store shelves and may be rivaled only by a few synthetics.

Several NSF programs have supported the research. Funding for this study came from the Division of Materials Research in the Mathematics and Physical Sciences Directorate.

Additional information is available in the Indiana University press release linked below.

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Media Contacts: Joshua Chamot, NSF, (703) 292-7730, jchamot@nsf.gov
David Bricker, Indiana University, (812) 856-9035, brickerd@indiana.edu
Wendy Lawton, Brown University, (401) 863-1862, Wendy_Lawton@brown.edu

NSF-PR 06-060

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of $5.58 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 1,700 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 40,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes nearly 10,000 new funding awards. The NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Receive official NSF news electronically through the e-mail delivery and notification system, MyNSF (formerly the Custom News Service). To subscribe, visit http://www.nsf.gov/mynsf/ and fill in the information under "new users".

Useful NSF Web Sites:
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