My name is Marco Dompè and I am a Ph.D. student at Wageningen University. I was born in Savigliano, Italy, on 8 October 1991. I have a BSc. and a MSc. in Industrial Chemistry from the University of Turin.
My Ph.D. Project title is "Bioinspired Underwater Adhesives using Complex Coacervation". The Project started in January 2016 and will terminate in January 2020.
In this project we are trying to mimic the ability of the sandcastle worm, an underwater organism: it manages to create its own shell secerning an adhesive which can connect sandgrains and biomineral particles collected underwater. This adhesive is stored inside the sandcastle worm in form of a complex coacervate. Complex coacervation is a phenomenon which takes place when two solutions of oppositely charged polyelectrolytes are mixed together: phase separation takes place so that two phases are present, a dilute phase which is mostly water and a polymer concentrated phase which is called complex coacervate.
Our aim is to synthesize a material holding the same adhesive properties, but with a better mechanical behaviour, which can be obtained by modifying the chemistry of the polyelectrolytes. With this approach we have already obtained a material which displays a high work of adhesion underwater.