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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.