Technology comes with great promises to humankind. Recently, researchers from the University of Bristol, UK, have come forward with one that constitutes a self-repairing material to safeguard people from heart breaks that are bound to happen when their smartphone screens break or when their nail polish chip off. The material that was initially developed to fit into aeroplane wings is able to fill and harden into tiny cracks. It might be ready for broader use in the next five years.
Consisting of several carbon-based compounds, the material can harden into miniature cracks in a manner similar to the formation of scabs on the skin after blood has oozed out.
“We took inspiration from the human body,” said the lead author, Duncan Wass, in a statement to 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.”
The material can create a sheet of millions of hollow microscopic spheres which are broken apart at the appearance of cracks. When this happens, a liquid is released to fill the space of the new gap. The liquid undergoes a chemical reaction that hardens it to glue it to the edges of the cracks. Thus, a hard filler is formed.
The technology seems to be quite effective. In certain cases, the researchers claim that 100 percent of mechanical strength was recorded.
It seems that the technology is highly desirable in diverse fields of research. Imagine using in smartphones which are known for their fragility. Also, the team was contacted by scientists from L’Oreal who wish to develop a self-healing nail varnish. This might even pave the way for self-healing paint, and car windshields.