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article imageScientists work on super glue based on adhesive from spider webs

By Marcus Hondro     Oct 22, 2015 in Science
Scientists from the University of Akron and Virginia Polytechnic Institute are stuck on an idea hard to get away from. They want to make a super-adhesive glue modeled on spider webs and say they will stick it out until they've managed it.
Spider web glue
In a press release the research team said they are examining the tiny droplets of a glue-like substance the spiders space out on intervals along their webbing. The "glue" of course traps bugs, flies, insects and other creatures spiders like to gobble.
Once the meal is stuck on the web, glued there in essence, Mr. or Ms. Spider can then take their time in moving along to eat their meal. They can work on one meal while another struggles, dies and ripens for them, all thanks to the very strong glue they concoct.
The scientists, unlike the doomed captured creatures, are fascinated by the spider-web glue and seek a way to replicate it in order to make a better glue for human use. One of the attractions of the spider-web glue in addition to its strength is its ability to grow even stronger in extreme humidity.
Sticky humidity
Glues on the market now peel off when it gets too humid, as those of us who have wandered into a humid day with a bandage on a finger already know. If spiders hadn't solved that problem you'd see lots of flies and bugs escaping their captors whenever the humidity spikes.
"Spider glue's unique because its adhesion increases in response to humidity, and for some species, the adhesion continues to increase up to 100 per cent relative humidity," their press release says. "That is the exact opposite of how synthetic adhesives, such as those on Band-Aids, act on human skin in response to higher humidity.
"As soon as you sweat (synthetic glues) peel right off."
As they seek to replicate spider web glue, an aspect of their research is the examination of the properties of salts and proteins found in that glue. Their work is ongoing and they do not yet have a time-line on when they might have a product ready for widespread use.
There are some 7,500 spiders that spin webs to catch their prey and glue them to the dinner table.
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