New Glue Gets Sticky in Absence of Moisture, Making it Ideal for Outer Space Adhesion

Super Glue For Outer Space Makes EVAs a Breeze!

NASA

Most glues become brittle and lost their stickiness when moisture is removed, but a new peptide-based adhesive developed at Kansas State University does the exact opposite, becoming stickier in drier environments. While that may not mean much for those living in a swamp, this unique property could make adhering objects in outer space a whole lot easier.

The new glue is made up of amino acid chains called peptides that become increasingly sticky when their pH reaches a level of about 9. At this point, the peptides form long fibrils that get tangled up in each other and whatever surfaces they are in contact with. So while the glue might not be ideal for non-porous, smooth surfaces, it will grab a tight hold on any textured surface it can get a foothold on.

The glue isn't as sticky as the strongest conventional adhesives, but in super-dry environs like those of outer space, a moisture-free glue is ideal for tasks like patching up heat-resistant tiles on a spacecraft or affixing something to the outside of the ISS. Further, the glue could be used to monitor for moisture in areas that need to remain very dry. Used to connect a circuit, it would fail when the moisture in an area rises, breaking the circuit and triggering an alert.