(Credit: Tara Fadenrecht, Niels Holten-Andersen)
This gel is a synthetic substance derived from mussels. It has possible medical and marine applications.
ScienceDaily (Jan. 31, 2011) — Scientists can now manufacture a synthetic version of the self-healing sticky substance that mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks in pounding ocean surf and surging tidal basins. A patent is pending on the substance, whose potential applications include use as an adhesive or coating for underwater machinery or in biomedical settings as a surgical adhesive or bonding agent for implants.
Inspiring the invention were the hair-thin holdfast fibers that mussels secrete to stick against rocks in lakes, rivers and oceans. "Everything amazingly just self-assembles underwater in a matter of minutes, which is a process that's still not understood that well," said Niels Holten-Andersen, a postdoctoral scholar with chemistry professor Ka Yee Lee at the University of Chicago.