Cyanoacrylate is the generic name for cyanoacrylate based fast-acting adhesives such as methyl 2-cyanoacrylate, ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate (commonly sold under the name Super Glue). Cyanoacrylate adhesives are sometimes known as instant glues. The abbreviation CA is commonly used for industrial grades.
Cyanoacrylates were invented in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover and Fred Joyner of Kodak Laboratories during experiments to make a transparent plastic suitable for gun sights. Although not appropriate for the gun sights, they did find that cyanoacrylates would quickly glue together many materials with great strength.
Generally, cyanoacrylate is an acrylic resin which rapidly polymerises in the presence of water (specifically hydroxide ions), forming long, strong chains, joining the bonded surfaces together. Because the presence of moisture causes the glue to set, exposure to moisture in the air can cause a tube or bottle of glue to become unusable over time. To prevent an opened container of glue from setting before use, it must be stored in an airtight jar or bottle with a package of silica gel. Another convenient way is attaching a hypodermic needle or specialised nozzle on the opening of glue. After applying, residual glue soon clogs the needle, keeping moisture out. The clog is removed by heating the needle (e.g. by a lighter) before use.