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Mimicking Nature to Design Degradable Adhesives from Renewable Resources

posted on 2021-10-12, 12:24 authored by Heather M SiebertHeather M Siebert
Adhesives are widespread. They hold together the furniture, cars and electronics that we use on a daily basis. The majority of commercially available glues are sourced from petroleum-based monomers and are not degradable in any practical way. The permanent nature of these adhesive materials makes disassembly for recycling difficult. Current bio-based glues such as hide and starch glue are not strong enough to compete with commercial glues. Inspiration from nature is helping us to tackle this problem. Marine mussels achieve strong bonding to underwater surfaces through the use of adhesive plaques containing the uncommon amino acid 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine. Incorporating this chemistry into a degradable polylactic acid backbone allows for the development of strong bonding biodegradable glue. Throughout this work, the synthesis of these materials is discussed as well as methods to improve the bonding of these materials to compete with commercial glues. The degradation of these materials as well as their cytocompatibility is discussed.


Office of Naval Research


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy



Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Jon Wilker

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Suzanne Bart

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Alexander Wei

Additional Committee Member 4

Dr. Julie Liu