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Biocompatible hydrogels exhibit robust adhesion in wet conditions to substrates with wide range of chemistries and moduli.
Recent interest in developing wet adhesion for biomedical and environmental applications have leveraged catechol-functionalized materials to achieve these results. However, catechol moieties can produce cytotoxic concentrations of reactive oxygen species which limit their biocompatibility. Existing alternatives to catechol-based systems require harsh conditions, heat, light exposure, or non-physiological pH to function.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Chemical Engineering have developed an adhesive hydrogels material that adheres to substrates underwater by applying slight pressure for less than one minute. Adhesion is insensitive to ionic strength of solutions or temperature. The result is a wet adhesive for use in biological or environmental applications that does not require exotic, harmful, toxic, or a specialty surface chemistry to achieve adhesion.