Researchers from the University of Illinois have successfully created a new type of self-healing plastic that can regenerate even after extensive damage.
Self-healing materials are not new, with consumer gadgets such as the LG G Flex offering a scratch-healing case, but these technologies can only repair themselves after relatively limited damage, such as superficial scratches.
This new polymer, described in the journal Science, takes its cues from the way in which blood clots, and contains a network of tiny channels deliver a healing agent to the site of the damage, allowing for repair of much more catastrophic damage.
The chemicals delivered through these channels first create a gel scaffold across a hole, with the gel hardening within minutes and the material recovering up to 62% of its original strength within a few hours.
The future commercial prospects of such a self-healing material are exciting, with gadgets no longer needing to be replaced because of a cracked screen or case, but also cars recovering from low-speed crashes without the need for expensive repairs, or even in building materials.