Blue and red dyes mix to patch a hole in plastic Image via Nathan Bajandas/Beckman Institute/University of Illinois

If living organisms didn't have the ability to heal, they would not get very far. Just imagine, every time you got a cut or scrape, it stayed with you forever and never healed. It wouldn't be a very promising world to live in, would it?. Chances are, you would quickly get an infection and that would be the end of you. This is, in essence, the problem that we are faced with when we are dealing with non-living objects. We trust cars and trucks to carry us down the road at lethal speeds, and every time they get a scratch or bump, we need to make a special trip to the mechanics or the body shop to get them fixed. But times are changing...

Previously, scientists developed a plastic that could heal when one applied heat. As amazing as this is, it isn't really "self-healing," as someone needs to apply the heat and be there throughout the process. However, a plastic that was described in Science contains a truly self-healing system. It can fix holes that are over 3 centimeters (1 inch) and preserve much of the plastics original strength in the process.

This plastic was made possible by creating extremely narrow "veins" in the plastic and then filling them with one of two different liquids, or monomers.

The process begins when the plastic breaks, cracks, or gets shot (for some unknown reason). When this happens, "veins" break open and the liquids within them mix. This creates two different chemical reactions. During the initial stage, the mixture turns into a gel. Next, it hardens, effectively covering the break. Learn more in the video below:


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