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Scientists create self-healing plastic

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, May 23, 2014, 4:56 PM - Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a self-regenerating plastic that's capable of repairing large holes and cracks.

Current self-repairing materials are only able to seal microscopic fractures, making the new technology a big step forward.

“We have demonstrated repair of a nonliving, synthetic materials system in a way that is reminiscent of repair-by-regrowth as seen in some living systems,” said Jeffrey S. Moore, a professor of chemistry who contributed to the study in a statement.

The new technology could have countless implications.


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Imagine, for example, cars that repair themselves minutes after an accident or cell phone cases that are incapable of cracking.

The team developed the special plastic by mimicking the human body's circulatory system.

It is embedded with "networks of capillaries" that release regenerative chemicals that seal and harden when the plastic is punctured.

“Vascular delivery lets us deliver a large volume of healing agents – which, in turn, enables restoration of large damage zones,” said Nancy Sottos, a professor of materials science and engineering. 

“The vascular approach also enables multiple restorations if the material is damaged more than once.”

The complete paper can be found online at sciencemag.org.


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