In Brief
An international team of researchers has experimentally demonstrated a unique plastic that can "stick itself back together" with a drop of water.
  • The polymer in question has a biotech twist: the researchers artificially generated a protein usually found in squid teeth using bacteria. The two-part copolymer consists of a string of amino acids connected by hydrogen bonds — it’s strong, but it can also self-heal.
  • The team created a sample of the polymer, sliced it in half, and then using normal water — at 113 degrees Fahrenheit — was able to combine the two halves to reform the sample’s original shape. A little bit of pressure was needed to have the two pieces bond.
  • One application for this kind of technology is for the fiber-optic cables laid underneath the ocean. “With this material, it would be possible to heal the cable and go on with operation, saving time and money,” said one researcher. Other applications include a material that could heal wounds.