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EUROPA - Research and Innovation: What's New in Innovation

Friday, March 05, 2010

Smart material-Super strong gecko insired adhesive gets unstuck is reusable and facilitates recycling components

This invention - innovation appears to have fairly wide spread application potential. As such may well suggest opportunities for the enterprising.

General Motors researchers, led by Tao Xie, a polymer scientist at the GM Research and Development Center in Warren, MI., have made an extremely strong adhesive that comes apart when heated. The adhesive is 10 times stickier than Velcro and the reusable gecko-inspired glues that many research groups have been trying to perfect.

The polymers in the glue bond to each other within minutes when they are initially heated. Thus, when two pieces of the adhesive materials are heated, they stick together strongly, but they come apart easily when heated again.

It is in the class of new materials known as Shape memory materials-here a polymer.

Current Performance:
The researchers were able to attach and pull apart the polymers twice before losing one-third of the adhesive strength (that's still 6.6 times stronger than other adhesives? ) So how many cycles are possible?

Recycling components:

Mark Geoghegan, who studies reversible adhesives at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., says that strong, switchable adhesives could make it easier to recycle computers and electronics, if these adhesives were used to glue them together. "Taking complicated structures apart for reuse at the end of life of the original device is not trivial if their original production involved welding," he says.

The glue could find use in any application requiring a strong but alterable bond, such as furniture, toys, and buildings. Geoghegan envisions offices or hotel rooms that could be tailored to accommodate a handicapped person. Or, he suggests, "Imagine a U2 tour, where sets are assembled and disassembled on a daily basis. It might be easier to use a high-strength reversible adhesive than to use bolts."

Some questions for applications and recycling: Reliabilty? Ratio of the amount of glue per component (esp for very small and expensive ones as in electronics). Glue removal when nessessary -by heating or chemical or mechanical abrasion?) Saftey standards for toys...?

This Smart Mat sounds well worth following-up.

Fuller details on MIT's Technology Review Newsletter

REF: en référence à : Technology Review: Super Velcro (on afficher sur) Google Sidewiki)

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