One of the most intriguingly successful inventions of my life has been Post-It Notes. The idea that glue which doesn’t work very well could create an important product was counter-intuitive and bravo to the folks at 3M who pursued it.

So it’s interesting to hear of research by Dartmouth researchers of a sort of similar idea: a glue that holds really well but releases instantly when heated in a vacuum. This won’t show up on Post-It Notes Two (I, for one, don’t have easy access to a vacuum) but the college says it has real applications in manufacturing:

The research focuses on molecular solids, a special class of adhesive materials that exist as crystals. The molecules in the structures are sublimable, meaning that they shift directly from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid phase.

The ability to bypass the liquid phase is the key to the new type of temporary adhesives. The adhesive sticks as a solid but then turns to a vapor and releases once it is heated in a vacuum environment. There is no need for mechanical force.

The school’s story, with links to the research paper, is here.

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