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The Slimy Deadly Weapon of Velvet Worms: an Inspiration for Bio-Compatible Adhesive Material

Stylianidis, Evgenios (2019) The Slimy Deadly Weapon of Velvet Worms: an Inspiration for Bio-Compatible Adhesive Material. Research Paper, Nanoscience.


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Velvet worm’s hunting weapon consists of a sticky slime ejected from animal’s oral papilla which rapidly dries forming a stiff material that entraps the prey. The bio-adhesive secretion of velvet worms presents some peculiar properties that make it a great inspiration for new generation biomimetic polymeric materials. Although initially the slime is ejected in a liquid state, upon mechanical shearing its monomers are supramolecularly self-organised into a fibrillar polymeric material with a high elastic modulus of around 4 GPa, comparable to glassy synthetic polymeric materials. Upon rehydration, the solidified bio-adhesive experiences a phase transition to liquid state, from which new fibers can be formed after stretching. Here, we give an overview of the current understanding on the properties that characterize the secretion slime of velvet worms, creating the starting point for the development of new bioinspired materials. Initially, we investigate the features of the responsible organs and the process of the biosynthesis of the slime. Then, we study the biochemical composition and the structure of the slime, and finally, we summarise all the available information related to the reversible phase transition mechanism of the slime. Finally, we conclude that the natural glue of velvet worms could be the inspiration for new generation bio-compatible polymeric materials. However, a lot of progress in the understanding of the adhesive mechanism should be made to proceed in the bio-mimetic fabrication.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Paper)
Supervisor nameSupervisor E mail
Degree programme: Nanoscience
Thesis type: Research Paper
Language: English
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2019
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 12:27

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