There are few substances that coat surfaces better than polydopamine. It seems to stick to nearly everything, from nanoparticles to Teflon, from cathodes to ceramics, from bones to airplanes, and from printed circuit boards to metals. In fact, over the past decade thousands of papers have been published on the use and properties of this bio-inspired material.
Polydopamine also has a wide range of potential uses in biomedicine– it has been used as a glue for teeth, it helps remineralize bone, it induces stem cell differentiation, and it has antimicrobial properties.
PDA also has self-healing properties as a coating and has unusual electrical properties that companies throughout the world have used in patent applications for new battery technologies. In addition to the academic papers, thousands of patents have been filed using polydopamine.
PDA is unlikely to ever become a commercial product because it must be made fresh and cannot readily be bottled for later use. So very few (if any) of these many patents have ever been developed into a product! But now we have developed another related compound that shows much of the same utility as PDA.
A number of studies have shown that catechol groups are responsible for many of the remarkable properties and behaviors of PDA. Perhaps the only catechol-containing polymer that can be made into a commercial product is Poly(catechol-styrene) or “PCS.” This biomimetic polymer was invented at Purdue University by Professor John Wilker to be like the underwater glue that mussels use to bind to surfaces.
Catechols are naturally found in a wide range of biological systems and perform an array of tasks, including pest deterrence, UV protection, coating, electrical functions and many more.
PCS is biocompatible and exhibits many of the same activities as PDA. But PCS can be made cost effectively, is stable, shows robust wet adhesion, and is now available commercially. We will discuss and describe the structure of PCS in our next blog post. But for now, PCS is being turned into a variety of products at Mussel Polymers Inc., including effective wet-bonding adhesives and coatings.
If you want to see if your materials can be functionalized, bound better, or be used to solve problems in new ways, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org