Mimicking mussel adhesion to improve interfacial properties in composites

L. M. Hamming*, X. W. Fan, P. B. Messersmith, L. C. Brinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The macroscale properties of polymer-matrix composites depend immensely on the quality of the interaction between the reinforcement phase and the bulk polymer. This work presents a method to improve the interfacial adhesion between metal-oxides and a polymer matrix by performing surface-initiated polymerization (SIP) by way of a biomimetic initiator. The initiator was modeled after 3,4-dihydroxy-l-phenylalanine (dopa), an amino acid that is highly concentrated in mussel foot adhesive proteins. Mechanical pull out tests of NiTi and Ti-6Al-4V wires from poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) were performed to directly test the interfacial adhesion. These tests demonstrated improvements in maximum interfacial shear stress of 116% for SIP-modified NiTi wires and 60% for SIP-modified Ti-6Al-4V wires over unmodified specimens. Polymer chain growth from the metal oxides was validated using X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS), ellipsometry, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and contact angle analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2042-2048
Number of pages7
JournalComposites Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • A. Polymer-matrix composites (PMCs)
  • B. Fiber/matrix bond
  • B. Interfacial strength
  • B. Interphase
  • B. Surface treatments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Engineering(all)


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