New Plastic Mimics Skin’s Ability to Bleed, Heal
The next time you get a new smartphone or laptop and accidentally drop it, instead of getting permanent cracks or damages to its plastic casing, your gadget might “bleed” and then heal itself. Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg recently announced a new type of plastic they claim can mimic the human skin’s ability to repair itself after being damaged. When scratched or cracked, the plastic turns red at the damaged area and then heals when exposed to light or significant changes in ambient temperature or pH. The new plastic was presented in a paper during the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.
The secret to the new plastic’s self-healing properties are tiny molecular links that span the entire material. When the plastic breaks, so do the links, resulting in the red mark at the point of damage. The red mark disappears when the plastic reforms after exposure to light or temperature changes. The substance doesn’t appear to be ready for commercial use just yet, but possible uses for the new material include tech gadgets, aviation and military equipment.