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Stretchy, Sticky Mussel Fibers Inspire New Types of Tough Waterproof Adhesives


De-bearded mussels are not only delicious — soon, they might improve medical implants. Scientists can now reproduce the sticky gloop that mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks, leading to a new breed of self-healing, waterproof elastic adhesives that can be used for underwater materials or even for biomedical applications.

To hang onto rocks in crashing ocean surf or tidal pools, mussels secrete hair-thin fibers called byssal threads — that’s the “beard” that must be removed before you can eat them. The threads act as an insoluble adhesive.


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