One of the next big areas of innovation in technology may be devices which fix themselves. Researchers have been working on a way for broken circuits to fix themselves and now researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi have come up with a way for the casings that surround those circuits to heal itself too. It’s self-healing plastic.
The University’s researchers recently showcased their new plastic at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. How does it work? In essence this new plastic heals itself in much the same way you do, by bleeding. The plastic, when damaged, develops a reddish hue over the “injured” area. That area will then heel when exposed to light.
It works thanks to tiny micro capsules embedded inside the polymer structures of the plastic. When the plastic is damaged the chemical bonds between those micro capsules are severed and they release the reddish tint. When exposed to ambient light the damaged portion would then “heal” itself by regenerating the broken chemical bonds. It can do this over and over again, re-healing the same area repeatedly if necessary. Tech 2 suggests thinking of this like a broken or damaged wax candle being reformed by heating, melting, and re-shaping it.
The possible applications are of course, almost endless. Researchers are already thinking of using it for everything from space craft to cell phones. Nissan has already made an iPhone concept case using a similar material as paint. Here it is…
Some are already imagining a future full of unstoppable, plastic T-1000s. Creating a plastic material which can reform itself in the same way the liquid metal Terminator did in Terminator 2 is still pretty far off, but now seems slightly less like science fiction than inevitable science fact.