New breed of plastic bleeds, heals itself

The University of Southern Mississippi developed a plastic that turns red when damaged and repairs itself.

(Credit:
Marek W. Urban)

Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi have developed a new kind of self-repairing plastic that could lead to impenetrable cell phones, laptops, and cars — or the next Terminator.

Team lead professor Marek W. Urban presented the results of the research at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Diego this week, revealing a type of plastic that mimics human skin.

Though self-healing plastic isn’t a new concept, Urban says the benefit of his team’s plastic is its warning system and ability to repair itself over and over again.

Different groups have approached the idea of self-repairing plastic in different ways, from injecting plastics with capsules that release repairing compounds when broken to making plastics that reconstruct themselves when exposed to outside stimulus like heat and light. The University of Southern Mississippi’s result was a combination of both.

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