Medical Adhesive Uses UV Light to Painlessly Remove Bandages and Tape from Patients

Posted on 1/17/2019 11:02:51 AM By ASC

The age old debate to slowly peel off a bandage or just rip it off in one quick motion has been the subject of strong opinion. Now, thanks to adhesive researchers in the US and China, there may be a way to painlessly remove bandages and tape from our skin using UV light. Researchers have devised a new type of adhesive that can stick to surfaces strongly, including moist surfaces, and yet be detached easily by exposing it to specific frequencies of light.

The research was directed by Zhigang Suo, a professor of mechanics and materials at the John A Paulsen School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University, along with researchers from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. 

Suo referred to his team’s discovery as “molecular sutures”. It occupies a middle ground between adhesion through covalent bonds, which would be permanent and is sometimes used to stick materials together in industry, and sticking through physical interactions, which is how current sticking plasters work. This sort of adhesive requires removal using solvents or simple brute force, leading to the familiar ouch of traditional bandage removal. Molecular sutures work through a phenomenon known as topological entanglement, where polymer chains form a network between two pre-existing polymer networks: in this case, the substrate of whatever material needs to be stuck to the skin, and the surface of skin itself.


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