New space glue

Unlike other adhesives it becomes stickier in dry environments

Published: Saturday 30 April 2011

imageA NEW adhesive could make sticking stuff together a little easier in outer space. Most glues become brittle and loose their stickiness when moisture is removed. But this adhesive developed at Kansas State University in the US does the exact opposite, becoming stickier in drier environments. The adhesive was recently patented in the US.

It is made up of amino acid chains called peptides that become increasingly sticky when their pH reaches a level of about 9. At this point, the peptides form long fibrils that get tangled up in each other and whatever surfaces they are in contact with.

So the glue might not be ideal for non-porous, smooth surfaces, it will grab a tight hold on any textured surface.

The glue is not as sticky as the conventional adhesives, but in super-dry environments like those of outer space, it is ideal. It can help in tasks like patching up heat-resistant tiles on a spacecraft or affixing something on the outside of a spacecraft.

The glue could also be used to monitor moisture in areas that need to remain very dry. It could be used to connect a circuit, so that when the moisture in an area rises, the circuit would break, triggering an alert.

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