Self-Healing Plastic

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have developed a nanotechnology polymer that can “heal” itself by filling in cracks and tears automatically. Although self-healing plastic is not an entirely new concept, the UIUC material is different because it can repair itself multiple times without any intervention.

The material could have important uses where making repairs is difficult, where materials are under enormous stress and/or where material failure would be catastrophic — such as in implanted medical devices, airplane and spacecraft components, and microprocessors. The UIUC researchers emphasize, however, that practical applications are years away, and that initial products will be highly expensive.