Feeds

Plastic that SELF-REPAIRS using light unleashed by prof

Holy Grail of materials paves way for self-healing cars

Top three mobile application threats

Self-repairing plastic that can heal cuts and scratches on its own surface has been presented at a meeting of the American Chemistry Society.

Inspired by human skin, the new material could make for self-healing cars and smartphones, that change colour when damaged and can close over "wounds" of its own accord.

Professor Marek Urban demoed the self-healing plastic - sometimes described as "the Holy Grail of Material Science" - yesterday at the society's yearly conference. Not only is the plastic capable of healing over scratches and cracks, it also visually highlights where it is damaged by turning red, with the red colour disappearing as the plastic fixes itself.

The healing process is triggered by sunlight and variations in surrounding acidity or temperature.

Healing plastic, Credit: Prof. Marek W. Urban, Ph.D.

A piece of plastic healing itself

Previous methods of making self-healing plastic have experimented with embedded capsules that release new repair material when cracked open. Prof Urban's approach is to make broken bonds in the cracked plastic reform when exposed to a stimulus, allowing the plastic to heal itself multiple times over instead of just once.

The secret lies in the small molecular links or "bridges" that span the long chains of chemicals that compose plastic. When plastic is scratched or cracked, these links break and change shape. Prof Urban tweaked them so that changes in shape produce a visible colour change — a red splotch that forms around the defect. In the presence of ordinary sunlight or visible light from a light bulb, or acidity and temperature changes, the bridges reform, healing the damage and erasing the red mark.

Prof Urban, of the University of Southern Mississippi, said:

Our new plastic tries to mimic nature, issuing a red signal when damaged and then renewing itself when exposed to visible light, temperature or pH changes.

The plastic research, part funded by the US Department of Defense, could help in many cases where fixing scratched or cracked plastic is impossible, with strong light being all that's required to smooth out a scratch. The ACS suggest it could have a use in battlefield weapons systems, in fixing simple things like scratched car fenders and in assessing damage in internal parts of anything from computers to aircraft. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.