A DNA-based glue has been developed by scientists at the University of Illinois, US. The adhesive uses DNA base pair mimics that bind to each other more strongly than their natural counterparts and may lead to glues far more powerful than Super Glue.
‘We wondered about the connection between nanoscale binding and macroscopic adhesion,’ says Steve Zimmerman, who led the research. ‘In particular, whether the binding energy of base pairs across an interface could lead to increased macroscopic adhesion.’
The researchers suspected that by adding DNA base pair analogues to surfaces they could create extremely strong, reversible linkages. Calculations suggested that if two surfaces were coated with complementary base pairs, and all the base pairs across the entire surface linked up, the resulting bond would be enormously strong. ‘In fact, the calculation suggested that if pulling the surfaces apart required rupturing all the base pairs at one time, the adhesive interaction would be a strong as steel!’ Zimmerman says. ‘That was an amazing idea.’
To test their theory they added one base pair to a glass surface and the complementary pair to a polymer film, using polystyrene as an adhesive. The results were encouraging, not only did the addition of base units improve the adhesive properties over the polystyrene alone, the adhesive could also be reset up to three times before the adhesion was reduced to the same level of stickiness as the unmodified polymer.
excerpted from ChemistryWorld (article by Cara Sutton)