AskDefine | Define adhesion

Dictionary Definition



1 abnormal union of bodily tissues; most common in the abdomen
2 a fibrous band of scar tissue that binds together normally separate anatomical structures
3 the property of sticking together (as of glue and wood) or the joining of surfaces of different composition [syn: adhesiveness, adherence, bond]
4 faithful support for a religion or cause or political party [syn: attachment, adherence]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. The ability of a substance to stick to an unlike substance.
  2. A feeling of attachment (e.g. an infant to its parents).
  3. An agreement to adhere
  4. An abnormal union of surface by the formation of new tissue resulting from an inflammatory process.



Related terms

Extensive Definition

expert-subject Physics Adhesion is the tendency of certain dissimilar molecules to cling together due to attractive forces.

Mechanisms of adhesion

Five mechanisms have been proposed to explain why one material sticks to another:

Mechanical adhesion

Adhesive materials fill the voids or pores of the surfaces and hold surfaces together by interlocking. Sewing forms a large scale mechanical bond, velcro forms one on a medium scale, and some textile adhesives form one at a small scale. This is similar to surface tension

Chemical adhesion

Two materials may form a compound at the join. The strongest joins are where atoms of the two materials swap (ionic bonding) or share (covalent bonding) outer electrons. A weaker bond is formed if oxygen, nitrogen or fluorine atoms of the two materials share a hydrogen nucleus (hydrogen bonding).

Dispersive adhesion

In dispersive adhesion, also known as adsorption, two materials are held together by van der Waals forces: the attraction between two molecules, each of which has a regions of positive and negative charge. In the simple case, such molecules are therefore polar with respect to average charge density, although in larger or more complex molecules, there may be multiple "poles" or regions of greater positive or negative charge. These positive and negative poles may be a permanent property of a molecule (Keesom forces) or a transient effect which can occur in any molecule, as the random movement of electrons within the molecules may result in a temporary concentration of electrons in one region (London forces).

Electrostatic adhesion

Some conducting materials may pass electrons to form a difference in electrical charge at the join. This results in a structure similar to a capacitor and creates an attractive electrostatic force between the materials.

Diffusive adhesion

Some materials may merge at the joint by diffusion. This may occur when the molecules of both materials are mobile and soluble in each other. This would be particularly effective with polymer chains where one end of the molecule diffuses into the other material. It is also the mechanism involved in sintering. When metal or ceramic powders are pressed together and heated, atoms diffuse from one particle to the next. This joins the particles into one.

What makes an adhesive bond strong?

The strength of the adhesion between two materials depends on which of the above mechanisms occur between the two materials, and the surface area over which the two materials contact. Materials that wet against each other tend to have a larger contact area than those that don't. Wetting depends on the surface energy of the materials. Well-known examples of adhesion are tape, glue, stickers, and rubbing dirt on golf balls.

See also


  • John Comyn, Adhesion Science, Royal Society of Chemistry Paperbacks, 1997
  • A.J. Kinloch, Adhesion and Adhesives: Science and Technology, Chapman and Hall, 1987
adhesion in Czech: Adheze
adhesion in Danish: Adhæsion
adhesion in German: Adhäsion
adhesion in Spanish: Adhesión
adhesion in Esperanto: Adherado
adhesion in French: Adhésion
adhesion in Galician: Adhesión
adhesion in Indonesian: Adhesi
adhesion in Italian: Adesione
adhesion in Dutch: Adhesie
adhesion in Japanese: 接着
adhesion in Norwegian: Adhesjon
adhesion in Polish: Adhezja
adhesion in Portuguese: Adesão
adhesion in Russian: Адгезия
adhesion in Finnish: Adheesio
adhesion in Swedish: Adhesion
adhesion in Turkish: Adezyon aşınması
adhesion in Ukrainian: Адгезія
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