We’ve seen self-healing materials in the past and expressed our T-1000-related concerns, but things have now progressed one step further with a plastic that can actually bleed to heal itself like humans do. I don’t know if androids dream of electric sheep, but now their fake skin can bleed plastic blood.
Previously, materials that heal themselves had been limited to small cracks or cuts that could be healed by pressing both sides together and waiting for them to set. While that’s handy when you drop your phone for the 1 billionth time and the screen heals all on its own, it’s not so great for something the size of a bullet hole.
Why are you hanging out someplace where your phone is getting shot, anyway? Well, whatever the reason, this new material is designed to heal punctures of the bullet-sized variety, so future spacecraft or fighter jets could recover from minor damage on the fly. That’s because Scott White at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the rest of his team have devised a plastic that is lined with an artificial vascular system similar to our own.
That way, when the material is damaged, it quickly begins ejecting two separate fluids that, when they make contact, react to build a scaffold for more to be pumped in and solidified. As they fluids interact, they slowly build a solid substance that grows over time until it’s sufficiently thick and large enough to cover the hole.
They’ve been working on the process since 2011, but now it’s capable of operating on a scale to heal damage that the human eye can see. Take a look at it in action; you can actually see it pumping like blood:
- There are also self-healing computer chips
- And a “Terminator” polymer that sticks itself back together
- You can draw with plastic in 3D with this crazy 3D pen