Self-Healing Polymer Shows Why Its Nickname is “Terminator”

By: | October 26th, 2013

Self-healing polymers are a new class of smart materials with a capability to heal themselves when they are damaged without any help or repair by manual intervention of any kind. According to experts, the first materials with self-healing properties may be just around the corner, although the serious thinking for this technology goes back to the 1960s when Soviet researchers published theory papers on this topic.

A team of materials scientists from CIDETEC Centre for Electrochemical Technologies in Spain has created a polymer that can heal itself without any need of outside intervention like heat, light, chemicals or any manual interference. The researchers have dubbed the material as ‘Terminator’ polymer, referring to the popular Terminator movies with robot soldiers that could heal themselves and were virtually indestructible.

To show their discovery, researchers sliced a tube of the polymer material in half and were able to stick the two pieces back together again in just two hours at room temperature with almost 97% efficiency. The material was able to heal itself and the two separate pieces were impossible to pull apart.

This self-healing material technology could be useful in the future by extending the life spans of plastic parts that are constantly under a lot of strain. Its impressive combination of elasticity and strength can bring the self-healing advantage to tablets, phones or other gadgets by sustaining scratches and scrapes.

Many researchers around the world are working on different ideas of self-healing materials; even NASA is researching self-healing materials to reduce dangerous repair needs in outer space.

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Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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