Learning from nature: synthesis and characterization of longitudinal polymer gradient materials inspired by mussel byssus threads

Macromol Rapid Commun. 2012 Feb 13;33(3):206-11. doi: 10.1002/marc.201100620. Epub 2011 Dec 20.


Marine mussels use their threads for attachment to any substratum and these biopolymer gradient fibers show an excellent combination of stiff and soft mechanical properties. A straightforward approach for the preparation of macroscopic longitudinal polymer gradient materials on the centimeter scale based on a poly(dimethyl siloxane) system is presented. Compositional gradients are realized by using three syringe pumps feeding different prepolymers capable to undergo thermal cross-linking. Within the gradient samples, the stiffness between the hard and soft part can be varied up to a factor of four. The gradients are analyzed by UV-Vis spectroscopy as well as compressive and tensile modulus testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopolymers / chemistry
  • Bivalvia / chemistry*
  • Elastomers / chemistry*
  • Microscopy, Ultraviolet
  • Siloxanes / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tensile Strength


  • Biopolymers
  • Elastomers
  • Siloxanes