New self-repairing plastic 'bleeds' and 'heals' like human skin

By on March 28, 2012, 6:00 PM

Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi have developed a new type of plastic that can mimic the behavior of human skin. Presented at an annual meeting of the American Chemical Society on Monday, the material turns red when damaged and can self-heal with little more than exposure to light.

"Mother Nature has endowed all kinds of biological systems with the ability to repair themselves," said lead researcher and professor Marek W. Urban, who reported on the development in San Diego this week. "Some we can see, like the skin healing and new bark forming in cuts on a tree trunk," he continued.

The new plastic is made from water-based copolymers, which is said to be more environmentally-friendly than other plastics and contains small molecular links referred to as "bridges" that span the length of the material. When the item is damaged, bridges break and form a red splotch around the "injury."

From there, the material can repair itself by being placed in the sun or another intense light source, as well as by being introduced to changes in temperature or pH. Unlike other products with regenerative qualities, such as the University of Illinois' self-repairing circuits, Urban's plastic can heal itself indefinitely.


Naturally, such a plastic would find countless practical applications spanning all industries, but there is no word on when it'll hit the market. Nissan's "Scratch Shield" paint has already shown uses for self-healing surfaces in the automotive business and it's still expected to ship on an iPhone case this year.




User Comments: 16

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Tygerstrike said:

I see this becoming a standard. Anything from a cellphone (dear god please!!) to a toothbrush. This is the type of tech ppl have needed but couldnt get.

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

Cool, this will probably be used for the T1000's finger nails.

psycros psycros said:

sarcasm said:

Cool, this will probably be used for the T1000's finger nails.

I guess somebody had to say it!

ramonsterns said:

Or Camera Lenses.

Mindwraith said:

It will be incredibly creepy to drop my phone and see a large red wound where it hit the ground. I'm not sure I would even want to pick it up after that :s

ramonsterns said:

Mindwraith said:

It will be incredibly creepy to drop my phone and see a large red wound where it hit the ground. I'm not sure I would even want to pick it up after that :s

You should have nothing to worry about unless it goes berserk, reaches godhood, and brings about the end of the world. In case that does happen, promptly contact N.E.R.V. and ask for Gendo Ikari, he'll know what to do.

Maybe.

Guest said:

Ramonsterns - not much chance it will be in a lens - the priority there is frequency response in the visible spectrum. This doesn't have those properties - it even discolours. Horrors. There are companies developing plastic and even fluid lenses, but the problem again is consistent accurate light transmission. Hoya has developed a surface coating that repels water and makes glass easier to clean without affecting light transmission - that's no small feat.

yowanvista yowanvista said:

But will it blend??? O.o

Zilpha Zilpha said:

That is some seriously cool stuff. We are well on the way to losing our planet to the human version of Geth.

jeffz6 said:

Why would companys sell products that heal? they wont us to buy a new one.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Why would companys sell products that heal? they wont us to buy a new one.
I think the success of each iPhone incarnation pretty much renders that theory null and void.

Guest said:

Where can I buy this now? I would pay 300 bucks for that just for my ipod.

Doctor John Doctor John said:

As this material allegedly mimics human skin, next time I cut myself shaving I'll stick my head in hot nitric acid, nuke it with a sun-lamp and I'll be good as new!

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'll stick my head in hot nitric acid, nuke it with a sun-lamp
That sounds promising! lol

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