Scientists create Terminator 2-like material that heals itself

Credit: Carolco Pictures/Pacific Western

In Terminator 2, the T-1000 android was blown nearly in two, only to mend itself by pulling its mercury-like substance back together. Scientists have long been working on creating a polymer to do the same thing, but previous research always required an external factor (like temperature or pressure) to work. Scientists at the CIDETEC Center for Electrochemical Technologies in Spain succeeded where other scientists have failed: they've invented a plastic polymer that will heal itself all on its own.

These same scientists previously created a similar material made of silicone using silver particles. That material, though, required pressure to heal itself after damage, and because of the silver it contained, was expensive to create. So they decided to try again. They began to work with a more common polymer, a polyurethane. When the polyurethane is cut, its disulphides redistribute themselves back into their original form. This reaction comes completely naturally at room temperature. In just two hours, the material can heal itself to about 97% of its original shape. Also, when stretched by hand, the material retains its strength and will not break.

This marks the first time that a polymer was created that does not need any external influences for self-healing. Obviously, naming the material "Terminator" was a no-brainer for the scientists involved in the research. The inexpensive polymer can be quickly manufactured and will prove invaluable in industrial environments. For example, say a part of a factory machine breaks: instead of needing someone to repair the machine or replace a part, that part just fixes itself. The idea might be a little scary, but it’s also extremely efficient. In fact, some day, the machines won’t need us humans at all.

Via RSC

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