Cencept of how the plastic repairs (via American Chemical Society)
The day may come when our robot subordinates will be able to bleed and bruise when we suppress their uprising, thanks to a new form of polymer that has self-healing capabilities. At this year’s ACS (American Chemical Society) Professor Mark W. Urban (School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at USM) unveiled a new type of plastic his research group has designed that mimics human skin in that it can discolor and even bleed, which is needed for the healing process, when damaged. The polymer works similar to skin in that when exposed to UV light, temperature or pH fluctuations it changes to shades of red when damaged and bleeds when cut or scratched.
The secret to this is that the team’s water-based copolymers is infused with nano-links, dubbed ‘bridges’, that travers the chemical make-up of the plastic. Once damaged these tiny links distort and change shape resulting in a red color. Once these deformities are exposed to light or temperature changes the nano-links return to their original state which gives the plastic its self-healing properties. The applications for which this new polymer can be applied to are virtually endless. Think of it being incorporated into cars (self-healing fenders?), planes (stress-point identifiers), body armor (heals after round impact), medical applications (burn victims, artificial limbs), and the list goes on and on. What might you apply it too? Let’s hear some feedback.