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Scientists at Pennsylvania State University have developed a special coating that enables torn fabric to heal itself when subjected to water. The secret behind this bit of wizardry isn’t glue or some other adhesive but rather, squid teeth.
As Popular Science explains, scientists discovered that squid ring teeth – the tiny teeth found along the suction cups on a squid’s tentacles – contain a protein that, when made into a liquid form using yeast and bacteria, can help fabrics like cotton and wool repair itself. All that’s needed is a little bit of water and light pressure applied for about a minute.
It’s not a perfect mend as the seam lines are still visible but it’s easy to envision how useful this could be in real-world applications.
Penn State Professor Melik C. Demirel, who led the research, said there are a couple of different practical ways it could be used. Textile manufacturers could coat already-made fabric with the special liquid to create a self-healing garment. Best yet, fiber that hasn’t yet been processed could be infused with the protein which would give the resulting material the ability to self-heal automatically.
Squid, of course, are only available in limited quantities meaning the scientists will need to figure out how to replicate the protein in the lab.
When you think about it, the answers to some of today’s most common problems are often found in nature – you just need to know where to look.