The glue is made up of polyelectrolytes – polymers that are electrically charged and can change their shape in response to their environment. These polyelectrolyte can lengthen or shrink at different pH levels, allowing them to either stretch out or roll into a ball.
The researchers were able to show that if oppositely charged polyelectrolytes are brought together in water, they tightly adhere. While this was known before, the strength of this bond – and the fact that the process can be reversed and repeated – was not previously understood.
This technology is fascinating to me -- a multi-use glue is something that wouldn't have been available just a few years ago. Imagine the applications!
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