News / Science & Technology

Scientists Create Plastic That Repairs Itself

FILE - Illinois researchers have developed materials that regenerate when the restorative material is delivered through two, isolated fluid streams (dyed red and blue), and the liquid immediately gels and later hardens. (Ryan Gergely)
FILE - Illinois researchers have developed materials that regenerate when the restorative material is delivered through two, isolated fluid streams (dyed red and blue), and the liquid immediately gels and later hardens. (Ryan Gergely)
Jessica Berman
Modeled on the blood vessels that make up the human circulatory system, scientists have created a plastic material that repairs itself. Researchers believe self-regenerating plastic could be used in many ways.

Imagine a sheet of plastic with a tear or hole in the middle; suddenly, the breach begins to fill in. Within a few seconds, the hole is completely covered with new plastic material. In a couple of hours, the plastic is as hard as ever.

Central to this self-regeneration process, according to inventor Scott White of the University of Illinois Urbana, are parallel, vascular-like channels through which liquid repair material is funneled onto the damaged plastic.  

A big challenge in the development of the self-regeneration system was gravity, which would make the repair material leak out. Scientists developed two chemicals, though, which mix and congeal immediately after reaching the damage site. The material then fills the hole or crack in the plastic by folding on top of itself until the entire breach is patched.

Watch related video report
 



White said scientists got the idea from the human circulatory system and the body’s use of platelets to repair a wound.

“If we had a major gash, there’s a possibility we could bleed out," he said. "But if that cut is not too severe, we should see a clot form and then the repair process takes place underneath that clot. And this is the same kind of principle here.”

Self-healing plastic could be used in a number of ways, White said. For example, it could be used as a protective coating on metal.

“If you had a regenerative coating in this case, you could basically walk away and be assured there is always going to be a coating on that substrate [material to be protected] and never have to worry about a corrosion process happening anymore,” he said.

White, a professor of aerospace engineering, said that might be useful on the deck of ships, which commonly get scrapped and dinged, causing rust to form, or as a coating on car bumpers to repair dings and scrapes.  

White said the research is in the early stages; currently, the repair is visible. In time, however, he said it will be difficult to see where the damage was after the plastic regenerates itself.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: UK
May 12, 2014 3:51 PM
So what about it's biodegradable properties?
In Response

by: W
May 13, 2014 5:55 PM
Not biodegradable, but then again it wasn't designed to replace water bottles. We're talking about expensive, hard to place structural materials for aerospace.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs