Sticky when wet: Understanding the chemistry of strong adhesion

From duct tape to post-it notes, we all use adhesives on a daily basis. And we all know how frustrating it can be when our adhesives don’t work—dirty or wet surfaces are often serious annoyances. While we’ve mastered the art of formulating an adhesive that remains sticky in air, most synthetic polymers cannot maintain their adhesive properties when wet. Water disrupts adhesion by forming layers on polar surfaces that inhibit contact between the surface and the adhesive.

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