The Press-Dispatch

June 9, 2021

The Press-Dispatch

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A-6 Wednesday, June 9, 2021 The Press-Dispatch SERVICES Now buying grain at 605 S. Oak St., Winslow (Formerly ADM Growmark) For hours and prices, call: Tom Anson 812-890-6105 or Nathan Andrews 812-309-0178 The Press-Dispatch 812-354-8500 | *By enrolling in the Birthday Club, you agree to have your name, town and birth- day, or the person's name and town and birthday of whom you are enrolling, printed in e Press-Dispatch on the week in which the birthday occurs. Joining is easy! Visit or send your full name, address, city, state, zip code, phone number and birthdate to* Each week, a list of birthdays will be published in the paper! You could win a FREE PRIZE from area businesses and a three-month subscription to e Press-Dispatch. MUST RE-ENROLL EVERY YEAR! Join the One WINNER is drawn at the end of each month Pregnant... or think you are? Call:1-877-257-1084 or Locally Call: 1-812-354-2814 • Free pregnancy testing • Free counseling and info. on pregnancy options. • Confi dential counseling for women & men who are suff ering from post-abortion syndrome. • Residential Care • Health and assistance referrals. • Training and education. • Assistance in getting baby and maternity clothes Petersburg Little League parade Petersburg Little League teams continue to file around the corner as they flow from the Walnut St. staging area, one block north on Highway 61, and then turn south on Main St. This year's opening day parade was moved to the end of the season, after the parade originally scheduled for April was rained out. A sticky subject: Studying shellfish for advanced adhesives By Brittany Steff Purdue News Service Don't look now, but you're surrounded. Really. Within arm's reach – probably even touching you – are trouble- some, sticky, potentially even toxic, substances. Bad for the planet, permanent, may- be even bad for your health. They're in your shoes, in your phone, in your laptop, lurking in the folds of envelopes, on books, in the chair you're sit- ting in, the flooring beneath your feet, and in uncountable other objects in your house, office and everyday world. They are adhesives. Vital to daily life, nearly unnotice- able, but also deeply problem- atic. They can be toxic and are usually permanent. Pur- due University chemists are studying shellfish to develop new, safer and more sustain- able adhesives for uses rang- ing from bandages and med- ical applications to clothing, household items, electronics and more. Humans have been trying to stick things to other things for millennia. But shellfish have been doing it for eons longer. And they are far bet- ter at it than humans. Which is why Purdue chemists got to wondering: Why don't we just use whatever they're using? Anyone who has ever tried to unstick a barnacle from a rock knows that it's nearly impos- sible. That success is something Jonathan Wilker, a Purdue professor of chemistry and materials engineering, and his lab are hoping to learn from – and build on. Shellfish and saltwater: un- derwater adhesion that works "We start by looking at an- imals that make adhesives," Wilker said. "We're still work- ing to understand the funda- mentals of how animals like mussels and oysters do what they do, how the chemistry and engineering work togeth- er. We are even seeing how the environment around them and the surface they're sticking to influences what they do." Critters such as barnacles, mussels and oysters live in places where they are contin- ually battered by waves and wind and pried at by potential predators. Their very lives de- pend on being able to cling to rocks and their neighboring shellfish. Sutures, screws and sta- ples are all widely used to close wounds, bind tissues and set bones, but they are all very damaging and extremely painful. If doctors had a chem- ical adhesive that they could use instead, healing would in- crease and collateral damage would decrease. The body, however, is a challenging en- vironment for adhesives: wet and constantly in motion. A lot like the sea. Scientists in Wilker's lab – which includes two postdoc- toral researchers, five gradu- ate students, four undergrad- uate researchers and 1,000 shellfish – study how shellfish create materials, what compo- nents of the adhesives play ac- tive roles in bonding and test new synthetic and biomimet- ic glues to determine their ef- ficacy, feasibility and perfor- mance. They are building on that understanding to devel- op adhesives that work under- water, are stronger, more sus- tainable, made from food prod- ucts and that can be un-stuck when needed We're making adhesives with new functionalities" Wilker said. "We can add in new chemical groups to target all sorts of properties, be that wet bonding, rubber-like flex- ibility or the ability to bond and then de-bond. One of our systems can even be stronger than what the animals make underwater. In that case, we are using chemistry that is inspired by the shellfish but, overall, our system is a sim- plification of what the animals produce." Gunning for new glue: mak- ing adhesives nontoxic, re- versible Every product in the glue aisle at the hardware store has a downside. Many are toxic. Particle board, lami- nate flooring and hardwood plywood are all held togeth- er with formaldehyde-based resins, which can be carcino- genic. Additionally, many ad- hesives are permanent. There is no way to dissolve the bond when a product is at the end of its life, which often prevents the components from being recycled. "Almost every common glue is petroleum-based and not de- gradable," Wilker said. "When your laptops or cell phones, shoes or furniture are no lon- ger needed, most of them go straight to a landfill. Even ma- terials like cardboard often do not get recycled because of the adhesives." Many glues are nearly per- manent, a factor many peo- ple have discovered when try- ing to remove the gumminess from a sticker or price tag from a product – or, more un- fortunately, from a car window where a child sat. Being able to reverse stickiness at will would give humans more con- trol over their environment. Increasing the sustainabili- ty and the functionality of ad- hesives can improve human life in a myriad of ways: by limiting exposure to harmful chemicals, by making heal- ing more comfortable, and by making products more sus- tainable and more recyclable to preserve resources and the planet. Wilker's lab is work- ing to make glues out of bio- based and even food-based compounds. Adhesion is a rapidly evolv- ing field with huge potential. It's a field in which Wilker is a recognized expert, thanks to a stray thread of curiosity en- countered in the ocean. "The core ideas in our lab come from spending time un- derwater," Wilker said. "I was SCUBA diving, saw shellfish sticking to rocks and thought, 'I wonder how that works? ' When I got back into the lab, I was sur- prised to learn about what re- mained unknown. There are so many exciting possibilities and applications to pursue if we can figure it all out." As both a professor of chem- istry in the College of Science and a professor of materials engineering, Wilker bridg- es the worlds of science and engineering in his efforts to tap the natural world for inno- vative solutions to adhesion problems. The Office of Naval Research and the National Sci- ence Foundation help fund his research. Wilker has worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Com- mercialization to apply for pat- ents on his adhesives from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is starting to make them commercially available through commercial ventures including a startup, Mussel Polymers Inc.

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