Xploration Station: Nature Knows Best features UA Polymer Researchers


Dr. Ali Dhinojwala on camera being interviewed by Nature Knows Best host Danni Washington

Drs. Ali Dhinojwala and Abraham Joy, Professors at the Department of Polymer Science, are well known for their research in biomimicry, the science of applying natural characteristics to new technology. Recently their work caught the attention of Xploration Station: Nature Knows Best, a syndicated television show dedicated to exploring all things science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The show’s host, Danni Washington, and a camera crew traveled to The University of Akron to interview them about their research.

Dr. Dhinojwala and Dr. Joy, along with UA students Ying Xu, Qianhui Liu, Amal Narayanan, and Dharamdeep Jain, have studied enough polymers and adhesives to know that nature does, indeed, know best. They noted that mussels were able to anchor themselves to rocks, withstanding the turbulent ocean tide. The strength of that underwater adhesive would have incredibly useful applications, from repairing water pipes to closing surgical wounds. By studying the qualities in mussels that allow them to stay adhered to rocks in the harsh ocean environment, their team has created a synthetic adhesive that shows very strong performance even when applied underwater.

Dr. Abraham Joy and the camera crew preparing to film

Incorporating certain chemical groups that mussels use to form strong contact with surfaces, as well as water-repellent chemical components, the group created a synthetic adhesive that was viscous enough to spread onto surfaces and strong enough to withstand water. The result? An adhesive that can hold together glass, aluminum, polycarbonate, and more, even when the application of the adhesive occurs underwater. Just a little bit of it applied to glass is capable of lifting 10 pounds out of water.

All of this was explained by Dr. Dhinojwala and Dr. Joy on camera when Danni Washington and the Xploration Station crew came to campus. The crew filmed interviews with several researchers and even caught a glimpse of the adhesive in action.

Amal Narayanan demonstrates how their new synthetic adhesive works to host Danni Washington

The segment, called “Medical,” will air in the local Akron area at 10:30 AM on Saturday, November 11th on local FOX channels. You can check your local listing here. The episode will also be available on Hulu, Yahoo! View, and Amazon Prime, and a portion of the segment is available for viewing here.

Watch the segment