New instant-cure adhesive is activated by electric current

Medical implants, automobiles seen as front-line applications for tunable adhesive

A new liquid adhesive that instantly cures to form a polymer bond when it is exposed to an electric current could have far-reaching applications in everything from medical implants to automobiles, reports

Dr Terry Steele (right) and student Gao Feng have developed a glue that hardens in response to a small electric current. Image courtesy Nanyang Technological University.

Developed by Dr Terry Steele, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and his research team, the bonding agent is described by as a light, low-viscosity flowing liquid that can be easily and precisely applied to the materials being joined. Applying voltage to the gel rapidly cures it to a “strong bond with high elasticity and shear strength.” Adhesion can be fine tuned by varying the electric current’s voltage and duration.

Potential applications include biological devices, where the adhesive can be tuned to handle certain vibration frequencies or to match the firmness and flexibility of the soft tissue to which it will be attached, and automotive assembly lines, where it would be more efficient than currently used photo- and thermo-setting glues, which require costly, high-maintenance hardware.

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