Tuning the interactions in multiresponsive complex coacervate-based underwater adhesives

Marco Dompé, Francisco J. Cedano-Serrano, Mehdi Vahdati, Ugo Sidoli, Olaf Heckert, Alla Synytska, Dominique Hourdet, Costantino Creton, Jasper van der Gucht, Thomas Kodger, Marleen Kamperman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, we report the systematic investigation of a multiresponsive complex coacervate-based underwater adhesive, obtained by combining polyelectrolyte domains and thermoresponsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAM) units. This material exhibits a transition from liquid to solid but, differently from most reactive glues, is completely held together by non-covalent interactions, i.e., electrostatic and hydrophobic. Because the solidification results in a kinetically trapped morphology, the final mechanical properties strongly depend on the preparation conditions and on the surrounding environment. A systematic study is performed to assess the effect of ionic strength and of PNIPAM content on the thermal, rheological and adhesive properties. This study enables the optimization of polymer composition and environmental conditions for this underwater adhesive system. The best performance with a work of adhesion of 6.5 J/m2 was found for the complex coacervates prepared at high ionic strength (0.75 M NaCl) and at an optimal PNIPAM content around 30% mol/mol. The high ionic strength enables injectability, while the hydrated PNIPAM domains provide additional dissipation, without softening the material so much that it becomes too weak to resist detaching stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Bioinspired materials
  • Complex coacervate
  • Environmentally-triggered setting process
  • LCST
  • Non-covalent interactions
  • Poly(N-isopropylacrylamide)
  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Underwater adhesion


Dive into the research topics of 'Tuning the interactions in multiresponsive complex coacervate-based underwater adhesives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this