The blue mussel incorporates the polyphenolic amino acid l
-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) to achieve self-healing, pH-responsiveness, and impressive underwater adhesion in the byssus threads that ensure the survival of the animal. This is achieved by a pH-dependent and versatile reaction chemistry of polyphenols, including both physical interactions as well as reversible and irreversible chemical bonding. With a short introduction to the biological background, we here review the latest advances in the development of smart materials based on the metal-chelating capabilities of polyphenols. We focus on new ways of utilizing the polyphenolic properties, including studies on the modifications of the nearby chemical environment (on and near the polyphenolic moiety) and on the incorporation of polyphenols into untraditional materials.
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