School of Engineering

Projects

Biological adhesives: from biology to biomimetics

The network

COST Action TD 0906 is an interdisciplinary network of scientists from more than 20 laboratories throughout Europe who share a common interest in the process of biological adhesion. By funding and promoting cooperation between scientists from diverse academic fields as well as industry, the Action aims to foster novel research directions, facilitate technology transfer and fund small scoping projects between partner laboratories spanning terrestrial and aquatic systems from microorganisms to geckos.

Research in Newcastle

Based in the School of Marine Science and Technology at Newcastle University, Dr Nick Aldred is a core group and Managing Committee member of the Action. He also leads a working group coordinating research into structural and chemical characterisation of biological adhesives. Dr Aldred’s principle research model is the cypris larva of barnacles and on-going research aims to identify the physicochemical characteristics of the cyprid adhesives that allow them to function so effectively underwater.

The relevance

Energy security is headline news, but another fundamental consequence of dwindling hydrocarbon reserves is the growing need to feed production of synthetic materials by alternative means. Often overlooked, bio-inspired materials and specifically biomimetic adhesives may reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons, toxic heavy metals and high-energy processes, while providing new capabilities to hi-tech industries as diverse as micro-electronics and human surgery.

Our approach

Bioadhesives research epitomises interdisciplinary science. In collaboration with physical scientists from numerous international laboratories, we apply cutting edge biophysical characterisation methods to these dynamic materials. In addition, our laboratories have a range of molecular techniques for the isolation, purification and analysis of bioadhesive proteins.