Many everyday items are easily breakable, but they may soon be able to repair themselves, thanks to a team of Spanish scientists who report they've created the world's first self-healing plastic.
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Nicknamed "Terminator," after T-1000, the liquid metal robot in the movie Terminator 2 that could repair itself, the new material was developed by researchers from the Center for Electrochemical Technologies in San Sebastian. In the Materials Horizons journal of Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry, researchers wrote that the self-healing polymer could be used to bolster the integrity and lifetime of plastic parts in common products like electrical components, cars and houses.
After one sample was cut in half, pressed together and left for two hours, the polymer achieved an impressive 97 percent healing efficiency and was unbreakable when manually stretched.
Using a simple and inexpensive approach, the self-healing thermoset elastomers were created from strarter materials already used in many commons polymers.
"The fact that poly(urea-urethane)s with similar chemical composition and mechanical properties are already used in a wide range of commercial products makes this system very attractive for a fast and easy implementation in real industrial applications," researchers said, according to UPI.
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Currently, the material is extremely soft, so researchers are trying to develop a harder version for industrial applications. In the meantime, check out this video of the polymer being sliced in half, then reattached.
Credit: Mark M. Lawrence/CORBIS