Plastic has be given Wolverine-like self-healing capabilities thanks to the work of Biswajit Ghost and Marek Urban, material scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi. The scientists have created a new polymer that can repair itself when scratched using UV light from the sun.
Ghosh and Urban add two components to an elastic polymer: oxetane for its unstable chemical structure and chitosan for its UV sensitivity. When the surface is scratched, oxetane rings are broken, creating reactive ends. The UV light then triggers chitosan to open more reactive ends. The oxetane and chitosan bond and close the scratch. Why didn’t I think of that?
The new polymer is not yet ready to be released commercially, but when it is ready, we could see it used on cars, cell phones, iPods, sunglasses, and compact discs (if anyone still uses those). The possibilities are endless. Imagine a scratch-free world, where screen protectors need not exist!
[via Ars Technica]