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Intermolecular Forces

Physical properties are affected by forces holding molecules together.

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Stuck on You

Stuck on You

Credit: Babi Hijau
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AdhesivesForHouseUse004.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Many things have been used to hold objects together. Nails and screws are effective, but often mar the surface of the material. Welding is only useful for metals. For small repairs or projects, glue is an excellent material. It doesn’t rust, is usually waterproof, and sticks to a variety of materials.

News You Can Use

  • Glue has been around for many centuries. Archaeological findings from 4000 BC show clay pots that were repaired with a material from tree sap. The ancient Greeks used glue for carpentry projects that was made out of things like eggs whites, blood, milk, and cheese. The Romans took a different approach, employing beeswax and tar for their gluing needs. The first patents for glue were issued in Great Britain in the 1750s.
  • A major step forward in gluing came with the development of cyanoacrylates, a group of polymers. First proposed as a possible plastic for gun sights in the early 1940s, these polymers were rejected because they were too sticky. Further work in the 1950s showed that these compounds made excellent glues. They are the basis for Superglue types of materials today.
  • Credit: David Goehring
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/4669407517/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Superglues can be used to make quick and simple household repairs because they work on a wide variety of materials [Figure2]

  • The mechanism(s) for why glue works are not clear at present. There are several possible explanations, but some of the theories depend on what type of glue we are considering.
  • Flies and many other creatures can walk on ceilings without dropping off. It appears that the feet of the fly have two footpads that contain larger numbers of hairs. These hairs produce materials that function as glues.
  • Watch a video that shows how to make glue from milk: 


Can You Apply It?

Use the links below to learn more about glue. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What are the two major factors that determine the effectiveness of glue?
  2. What is the major intermolecular force that influences how glue works?
  3. What factors affect the ability of the gecko feet to stick to objects?
  4. What material is used as an adhesive in the Geckskin?
  5. What did Viet Nam-era medics use to stop bleeding?

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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Babi Hijau; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AdhesivesForHouseUse004.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: David Goehring; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/4669407517/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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