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Glue Marbles: The Dippin’ Dots Of Advanced Adhesives

We’ve all managed to somehow stick ourselves to a tube of superglue. Sometimes it costs us a little pride, other times, a little skin, but it always calls attention to how inherently difficult it is to handle a substance that’s designed to stick.

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It’s a paradox that researchers from Japan’s Osaka Institute of Technology may have just solved. In a paper just published to Materials Horizons, a team led by Syuji Fujii has developed a “liquid marble” that is normal to the touch but, once pressed, smashes into a sticky goop.

Inspired by aphids, which secrete honeydew-filled liquid marbles coated in wax, you can pour these millimeter-sized balls out of a jar, onto your project, and, squuiiishh–everything sticks.

Of course, rolling balls will be harder to manage than good old liquid glue in many contexts. That’s why the paper details the most common use case scenario as being for “confined and intricate spaces,” including fixing a cracked wall, or fastening a screw into place. The marbles are also supposed to be excellent for gluing together rough materials like wood, because the goop can claw its way into uneven surfaces to help things stick.

But truth be told, their larger application may be outside the adhesives industry altogether. Researchers cite the potential of squeeze-to-release drugs, assumably for anything a patient would apply topically in controlled portions. As for me, I can’t wait until Banana Boat releases their Dippin’-Dots-inspired suntan lotion of the future.

[via New Scientist]

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