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Chemistry

‘Terminator’ polymer regenerates itself

Reproduced with permission of the Royal Society of Chemistry from Alaitz Rekondo, Roberto Martin, Alaitz Ruiz de Luzuriaga, Germán Cabañero, Hans J. Grande and Ibon Odriozola, Mater. Horiz., 2014, DOI: 10.1039/C3MH00061C

Spanish scientists report to have created the world's first self-healing polymer that can repair itself on its own without any intervention.

The new material, dubbed a "Terminator" polymer in tribute to the T-1000 robot from the "Terminator 2" film, could be a breakthrough in the lifetime of plastic parts used in everyday products, cars and even houses.

"The fact that poly(urea-urethane)s with similar chemical composition and mechanical properties are already used in a wide range of commercial products makes this system very attractive for a fast and easy implementation in real industrial applications," the authors said in a press release.

Published in the Materials Horizons journal of Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry, the self-healing polymer can spontaneously regenerate and heal itself after being cut in two.

Scientists used a razor blade to cut the material in half, they then pressed the pieces together and left the polymer to sit in room temperature untouched for two hours.

They returned to find the polymer had healed itself when they stretched it manually.

Watch the video below.