Regenerating plastic grows back after damage

Scientists create ‘self-healing’ plastic inspired by human vascular system

plastic-grows-back-after-damage

Looking at a smooth sheet of plastic in one University of Illinois laboratory, no one would guess that an impact had recently blasted a hole through it.

Illinois researchers have developed materials that not only heal, but regenerate. Until now, self-repairing materials could only bond tiny microscopic cracks. The new regenerating materials fill in large cracks and holes by regrowing material.

Led by professor Scott White, the research team comprises professors Jeffry S. Moore and Nancy Sottos and graduate students Brett Krull, Windy Santa Cruz and Ryan Gergely. They report their work in the May 9 issue of the journal Science.

“We have demonstrated repair of a nonliving, synthetic materials system in a way that is reminiscent of repair-by-regrowth as seen in some living systems,” said Moore, a professor of chemistry.

Such self-repair capabilities would be a boon not only for commercial goods — imagine a mangled car bumper that repairs itself within minutes of an accident — but also for parts and products that are difficult to replace or repair, such as those used in aerospace applications.

See also: Zeoform – Turns Hemp Into Plastic

The regenerating capabilities build on the team’s previous work in developing vascular materials. Using specially formulated fibers that disintegrate, the researchers can create materials with networks of capillaries inspired by biological circulatory systems.

“Vascular delivery lets us deliver a large volume of healing agents — which, in turn, enables restoration of large damage zones,” said Sottos, a professor of materials science and engineering. “The vascular approach also enables multiple restorations if the material is damaged more than once.”

For regenerating materials, two adjoining, parallel capillaries are filled with regenerative chemicals that flow out when damage occurs. The two liquids mix to form a gel, which spans the gap caused by damage, filling in cracks and holes. Then the gel hardens into a strong polymer, restoring the plastic’s mechanical strength.

“We have to battle a lot of extrinsic factors for regeneration, including gravity,” said study leader White, a professor of aerospace engineering. “The reactive liquids we use form a gel fairly quickly, so that as it’s released it starts to harden immediately. If it didn’t, the liquids would just pour out of the damaged area and you’d essentially bleed out. Because it forms a gel, it supports and retains the fluids. Since it’s not a structural material yet, we can continue the regrowth process by pumping more fluid into the hole.”

The team demonstrated their regenerating system on the two biggest classes of commercial plastics: thermoplastics and thermosets. The researchers can tune the chemical reactions to control the speed of the gel formation or the speed of the hardening, depending on the kind of damage. For example, a bullet impact might cause a radiating series of cracks as well as a central hole, so the gel reaction could be slowed to allow the chemicals to seep into the cracks before hardening.

See also: Scientists investigating the impact of plastic ‘hidden’ in the seas

The researchers envision commercial plastics and polymers with vascular networks filled with regenerative agents ready to be deployed whenever damage occurs, much like biological healing. Their previous work established ease of manufacturing, so now they are working to optimize the regenerative chemical systems for different types of materials.

“For the first time, we’ve shown that you can regenerate lost material in a structural polymer. That’s the kicker here,” White said, “Prior to this work, if you cut off a piece of material, it’s gone. Now we’ve shown that the material can actually regrow.”

Moore, Sottos and White also are affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the U. of I. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported this work.

Source | ScienceDaily | The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

The 10 Biggest Dangers Posed By Future Technology

It’s not easy predicting the future of technology. In the fifties it seemed a pretty much foregone conclusion that by 2015 we would all...

Government-Funded ‘Am I Stoned?’ Marijuana App Tells You: You’re Stoned

If you’ve ever wondered how stoned you are, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone: Government officials are wondering the same thing. With...

Did we discover “Alien technology” and reverse-engineer it?

A lot of people have wondered ever since the first reported UFO crash, if we had come into contact with Alien technology. Highly advanced technology...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

MOST READ

What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

Complete List of BANKS Owned/Controlled by the Rothschild Family

What’s the significance of having a central bank within a country and why should you concern yourself, your family and colleagues? Central banks are illegally...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

The 10 Biggest Dangers Posed By Future Technology

It’s not easy predicting the future of technology. In the fifties it seemed a pretty much foregone conclusion that by 2015 we would all...

Antibiotics Give Rise to New Harmful Bacteria

Researchers identify unexpected activity of antibiotics, potentially reshaping our understanding of why antibiotics evolved and pointing to broad health implications Most people have taken an...

Mystery of Titan’s moving ‘island’

Astronomers at Nasa in California have been left baffled by the appearance of a huge feature in one of Titan's largest seas Giant mass 58...

Mystery Stingray devices discovered in Washington

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it has observed "anomalous activity" consistent with the use of so-called stingrays. They could be used by foreign...

“The 21st Century Cures Act” Is On Its Way – Here’s Why You Haven’t Heard About It

The 21st Century Cures Act is going through the U.S. Congress right now, and it will likely pass into law unless some opposition materializes...

Secret Nazi military base discovered by Russian scientists in the Arctic

A secret Nazi military base in the Arctic has been discovered by Russian scientists. The site – located on the island of Alexandra Land 1,000km from the...

High-speed pig slaughter will be disastrous for everyone involved

The Trump administration has proposed a radical change in food safety protection. They’re misleadingly calling it the “Modernization of swine slaughter inspection rule”, but what...

Monsanto GMO wheat contamination in Montana

Monsanto GMO Wheat Found in Montana as Oregon Probe Ends Monsanto’s experimental genetically modified wheat has been discovered growing in the second US field in...