The Nanoscience of Adhesives
on 22/03/2018

Research has demonstrated that builders are increasingly turning to structural adhesives over more traditional fixings to make joins in their projects. With advances in technology, these adhesives now contain nanoparticles, which significantly increase the strength of the bond.

The Advantages of Adhesive

Traditional building techniques use fixings to join to substrates together. For example, if you were to join two pieces of metal, this would be done by means of a bolt or rivet. This involves making a hole in both substrates and feeding a small piece through. This has two disadvantages:

•       The hole weakens the structure of the metal.
•       The bolts or rivets add weight to the project, which can have a knock-on effect to costs and the performance required from other design elements.

When using an adhesive, it isn’t necessary to make any holes. Adhesives themselves are lighter, which can lead to overall cost savings for the project.

Traditional Adhesive

The usual type of bonding material used in building comes in two parts. These are mixed, usually at a 1:1 ratio, which starts a chemical reaction. The adhesive is spread over the surface and the two pieces are joined together. Once the chemical reaction has taken place, the adhesive hardens into a permanent bond.

The problem is that even the smoothest surface isn’t truly smooth. Examined under a microscope, you will see peaks and troughs – and traditional adhesives only stick to the peaks, meaning the bond is not as strong as it could be.

Nano-Particles

Nanotechnology has a solution for that. In metal bonding adhesive the tiny particles will make their way into the troughs, ensuring a far more solid bond. This increases the range of jobs for which adhesives are suitable. You can read more about that here: http://www.ct1ltd.com/product-applications/metal-to-metal-adhesive/.

These adhesives don’t just have applications in the building trade – they are also being developed for medical use: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/6/242/242ec112.

These Super Structural Adhesives offer increased levels of both tensile and peel strength. As the bonds are now strong enough to replace fasteners, there is no longer any need for constructors to worry about the mechanical stresses which using fasteners bought.

The applications for these Super Structural Adhesives are likely to increase as they are used on projects and they are tested ‘in the field’ and natural experimentation occurs. Watch out for more nano-adhesives in the future.