The More It Sticks Together, the Happier We’ll Be

Researchers have created a super-strong and versatile "hyper glue" that could have applications ranging from paint to body armour.


A team of Canadian researchers is in a very sticky situation — in a good way. Together, they have created a super strong ‘hyper glue’ that could bond everything from pipes, to medical devices, and even body armour.

Designed by researchers at the Universities of Victoria (UVic) and British Columbia – Okanagan (UBCO) the glue relies on a technique called cross-linking. When exposed to heat or long-wave UV light the adhesive — a newly designed bis-diazirine molecule — changes shape and forms tiny chemical links between the surrounding materials. These links are so strong, and bond the materials together so tightly, that the materials become both impact and corrosion-resistant.

“By using this cross-linking technology, we’re better able to strongly fuse together different layers of fabric types to create the next generation of clothing for extreme environments,” says Jeremy Wulff, an organic chemistry professor at UVic whose team led the design of the new material.

“At the same time, the cross-linker provides additional material strength to the fabric itself.”

Being such a versatile adhesive opens up numerous potential applications. In fact, testing is already underway with research groups at UBC, UVic and the University of Alberta to create ballistic protection for first responders and high-performance body armour.

But the glue could also have everyday uses. The substance is particularly effective in high-density polyethylene, a plastic widely-used for everything from food storage containers to plastic toys. In this context, the glue has real potential to make flimsy items stronger, less prone to failure, and more reusable.

“Imagine paints that never peel or waterproof coatings that never need to be resealed,” says research co-lead Abbas Milani, director of UBC’s Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute.

Being an incredibly strong bonding agent is just the beginning of what this hyper glue could do.

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Amy Noise is a science communicator who is fascinated by how and why the world works. Always learning, she is passionate about science and sharing it with the world to improve and protect our health, society and environment. Amy earned her BSc (biology and science communication) at the University of Manchester, and MSc (nutrition science and policy) at King’s College London, UK. She tweets sporadically @any_noise