Underwater Adhesives

Case ID:

This technology provides a method for underwater adhesion through the use of a masked compound that, when exposed to water, forms covalent bonds with surfaces containing phenols.


It is extremely difficult to repair cracked or broken surfaces that are exposed to water (i.e. boat hulls, swimming pools, human tissues, etc.) without the high host of draining the water away or physically removing the object from the water. Therefore, a compound which naturally reacts in the presence of water to form a strong bond would offer significant utility for a variety of direct underwater applications.


  • This invention is ideal for underwater adhesives and patches in a variety of applications, such as marine technologies (boats, buoys, jet skis, etc), surgical mesh, medical devices, swimming pools, and a host of other underwater environments
  • In more advanced scenarios, varying amounts of the compound can be added to speed up or slow down the reaction, which would ensure that the unreacted compounds remain “buried” in the event of a failure of the seal. Once exposed to water these compounds would eventually generate compounds that could “heal” the failure.


  • The chemical compounds degrade over time so that the surface does not remain “sticky” permanently
  • This technology forms highly colored azobenzene linkages, which can serve as a positive indicator that the desired reaction has occurred
  • Naturally reacts in the presence of water to form a strong bond
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Laura Silva
Sr. Licensing Manager, COS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
John Jewett