UMass polymer scientists: Tackiness is a matter of degrees

August 30, 1999

In "switchable adhesives," body heat makes all the difference

AMHERST, Mass. -- A team of French scientists is developing a coating that's sticky when a person touches it, but almost immediately cools to a slick, Teflon-like surface when the person lets go. University of Massachusetts polymer scientists Thomas Russell and Ho-Cheol Kim reviewed the findings in a recent issue of the journal, Science.

"We can all recall situations when the stickiness of a substance -- such as chewing gum or partially dried paint -- results in an unpleasant experience," the UMass scientists wrote. "But there are numerous situations where tack is highly desirable. Adhesive tape, rubber cement, and Post-It notes all use tack to great advantage." Industries which rely on adhesives include cosmetics, aerospace, and textiles, Russell noted. The sticky substances may be natural, such as starches or natural rubber cements, or synthetic polymers -- long strings of linked molecules.

"Worldwide, the production and use of adhesives and tackifiers support an industry that nets tens of billions of dollars annually," Russell said. However, he added, it remains difficult to produce a material that is sticky only at certain times. Thus, the ability to trigger specific levels of tack holds tremendous potential. The French scientists accomplished this by manipulating an adhesive polymer so that its level of tackiness would rely only on the rise or fall of a few degrees, according to the journal.

One of the potential uses of this switchable tackiness would be in self-cleaning tennis racquets and golf club grips, Russell said. Grips coated with this polymer would be tacky under the hands' warmth, but after the grip is released, the lower temperature would "switch off" the polymer's tacky properties. As the surface cools, it becomes smooth and slick, enabling dust and dirt to fall away.
-end-
Note: Thomas Russell can be reached at 413-577-1516 or russell@iskra.pse.umass.edu

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Related Polymer Articles from Brightsurf:

Impurities enhance polymer LED efficiencies
New research published in EPJ B reveals that the higher-than-expected efficiency of PLEDs can be reached through interactions between triplet excitons, and impurities embedded in their polymer layers.

Safety of bioabsorbable polymer against durable polymer DES in high-risk PCI patients
A novel study sought to reveal whether drug-eluting stents (DES) coated with bioabsorbable polymer (BP) presented a safety advantage without compromising efficacy compared to durable polymer (DP) formulations.

Polymer membranes could benefit from taking a dip
A new technique developed by a team including researchers from the US Department of Energy (DOE)'s Argonne National Laboratory makes atomic layer deposition possible on nearly any membrane.

New polymer material may help batteries become self-healing, recyclable
Lithium-ion batteries are notorious for developing internal electrical shorts that can ignite a battery's liquid electrolytes, leading to explosions and fires.

Researchers add order to polymer gels
Gel-like materials have a wide range of applications, especially in chemistry and medicine.

Bundlemers (new polymer units) could transform industries
From tires to clothes to shampoo, many ubiquitous products are made with polymers, large chain-like molecules made of smaller sub-units, called monomers, bonded together.

New synthetic polymer degradable under very mild acidic conditions
A new type of degradable synthetic polymer was prepared by Rh-catalyzed three-component polymerization of a bis(diazocarbonyl) compound, bis(1,3-diketone), and tetrahydrofuran.

New polymer tackles PFAS pollution
toxic polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) pollution -- commonly used in non-stick and protective coatings, lubricants and aviation fire-fighting foams -- can now be removed from the environment thanks to a new low-cost, safe and environmentally friendly polymer.

New polymer films conduct heat instead of trapping it
MIT engineers have flipped the picture of the standard polymer insulator, by fabricating thin polymer films that conduct heat -- an ability normally associated with metals.

Polymer reversibly glows white when stretched
Polymers that change their appearance in response to mechanical forces can warn of damage developing in a material before the stress causes structural failure.

Read More: Polymer News and Polymer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.