A new self-repairing material has been developed by researchers in the UK and they say it’ll be ready to integrate into everything from smartphone screens to nail varnish within the next five years.
Originally developed for aeroplane wings, the technology has the potential to revolutionise a range of industries with the capacity to move into tiny cracks and harden inside like the way blood forms a dry, protective scab to heal flesh wounds.
Made from a mixture of different carbon-based chemicals, this new healing agent produces a sheet of millions of microscopic spheres. When a crack breaks these hollow microspheres apart, a liquid is released that moves into the newly formed gap. A chemical reaction then causes the polymerisation - or hardening - of this liquid, causing it to glue to the edges of the cracks and form a hard, near-invisible filler.
The technology has been developed by a team from England’s University of Bristol, led by chemist Duncan Wass, and was presented at a Royal Society meeting in London last month.
"We took inspiration from the human body," Wass told Chris Green at The Independent.
"We’ve not evolved to withstand any damage - if we were like that we’d have a skin as thick as a rhinoceros - but if we do get damaged, we bleed, and it scabs and heals. We just put that same sort of function into a synthetic material: let’s have something that can heal itself."