back to article Plastic that SELF-REPAIRS using light unleashed by prof

Self-repairing plastic that can heal cuts and scratches on its own surface has been presented at a meeting of the American Chemistry Society. Inspired by human skin, the new material could make for self-healing cars and smartphones, that change colour when damaged and can close over "wounds" of its own accord. Professor Marek …


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  1. K. Adams

    "In the presence of ordinary sunlight ... the bridges reform..."

    How long before the word "reform" is replaced by "replicate"...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      self healing paint

      Has already been used on cars, plasticising it was just the next step, but not that revolutionary.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        zagg screen protectors

        Do the same thing!

  2. mark 63 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "The ACS suggest it could have a use in battlefield weapons systems"

    Oh hurrah , finally battlefield weapons systems is getting some R&D , a much maligned field in which there have been no advances for decades.

    At last someone has had the sense to have a think about how we van all kill each other more effectively

    1. Marty

      they may have shafted the DOD...

      the fact that the research was in part paid for by the department of d̶e̶f̶e̶n̶s̶e War, then I think to continue getting money from them they would have to say it could have a use in battlefield weapons systems...

      But think for a minute....

      Battlefields are all about blowing stuff up and destroying stuff, the plastic is about fixing stuff. Other military hardware, they would have to leave out in the sun for it to be fixed. I am not sure how quick it fixes itself, but I bet a £ to a penny that its not ever going to be quick enough for battlefield use. They are not going to discard something in the arena that will fix itself for the enemy to come along and pick up.

      best use for the battlefield will be to let a soldier know something was damaged and not safe to use....

      the best use I can think of is for the external shell of aeroplanes....

      1. Mike Moyle

        Re: they may have shafted the DOD...

        "I bet a £ to a penny that its not ever going to be quick enough for battlefield use. They are not going to discard something in the arena that will fix itself for the enemy to come along and pick up."

        OTOH, not everything gets abandoned on the battlefield; some equipment DOES get taken back to a repair depot. I suspect that in the future the equation will be roughly the same as it is now "How expensive/critical/replaceable/repairable is this unit? Is it too damaged to be worthwhile sending back? If some parts are self-repairing, that could change the equation.

  3. Audrey S. Thackeray

    Schrödinger's art

    You could scratch a picture onto a sheet of this that you could not properly observe as it would start to 'heal' as soon as you had enough light to see it by.

  4. b166er


    Does this mean I'll never have a hole in another pair of socks? (apart from the one I put my foot through wise-ass)

    1. jai

      you wear plastic socks? it is for incontinence or just a fetish thing?

      1. 0_Flybert_0

        most everyone wears plastic clothes

        Nylon ... Rayon .. Polyester are the most common ones

      2. It'sa Mea... Mario

        Most socks, with the exception of 100% cotton ones, do contain a fair amount of Polyester:

  5. Johnny Canuck

    "fixing simple things like scratched car fenders and in assessing damage in internal parts of anything from computers to aircraft."

    ... or killer mechanical robo-juggernaughts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pre-coffee interpretation

      As the title says the first read of your post, robo-juggernaughts appeared in my head as robo-jugs, of course I then started thinking about self healing boobs, what then happened was a concerted effort on my part to stop that line of thinking and get back to work.

      This highlights the issue of not drinking my morning quota of coffee before embarking on a reading spree through El Reg.

      1. DAN*tastik
        Thumb Up

        Re: Pre-coffee interpretation

        That is the PIP implants problem resolved. You're a genius

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pre-coffee interpretation

          *Patiently waiting for my Patent Application form to arrive* ;-)

  6. Adrian Parker

    Could do with this for my glasses.. always getting scratched.

    1. Tony Barnes

      Not great for glasses.. the scratches would turn red during the 'repair' time, rendering them vaguely useless

      1. Simbu

        Re: Not great for glasses..

        If i scratched my glasses I'd be seeing red for a while anyway.

        1. Wize

          Re: Not great for glasses..

          But you don't have to use the colour change in the lens.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Not great for glasses..

            Qucik rub with a Brillo pad, and bingo! Rose tinted spectacles.

  7. AdamT


    With previous reports of this kind of thing I'd always wondered how the initial shape was "specified". i.e. you might have areas of stress or shapes with sharp edges and corners and you don't want them to "heal" back to something flat or round. I have visions that over time anything made from this stuff starts looking a bit, well, blobby... (but then I'm not a chemist)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      Judging by the scale on the photos in the article, we're talking about "hairline" cracks of under 0.1mm. Could be much less.

      On the other hand, maybe the parts can be pushed back together so they "grow" into an invisible joint?

  8. Robert E A Harvey

    Only one thing to say

    That is so cool.

    1. James O'Brien
      Thumb Up

      Re: Only one thing to say

      That was exactly my thought when i read this article....I wish there was a time lapse or something so we could see it in action though.

  9. jai

    too late....

    shame this wasn't around when CDs and DVDs were all the rage

    1. Bill Neal

      Re: too late....

      still doesn't do anything for the fol flaking off the back of a disc

  10. NomNomNom

    yea its all great until your car gets a tumor

  11. Stratman
    Paris Hilton

    Self repairing Bulgarian airbags?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Better than that,

      Self-healing Realdolls

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Better than that,

        No doubt with the custom ROM fitted?

        (apologies to XKCD)

  12. jubtastic1


    A polymer coating that turns red with damage and self heals, and it just happens to be flesh coloured, this is clearly first gen terminator skin.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: ROTM

      I thought the T-600s had rubber skin, not plastic.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the best application is in condoms?

    1. Bill Neal

      Re: surely

      would you really want to leave a condom in the sun for a while then reuse it?

    2. PsychoHippy

      Re: surely

      Only if the sun shines out of ....

      I'll get my coat.

  14. MaXimaN

    Just what the world needs

    A fantastic plastic that will never biodegrade. Enough of this stuff in the swirling Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it will probably come sentinent...

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Alan Denman

    Glass ceiling needed.

    If Reggie Perrin's boss was head guy at Apple he would say "I didn't get where I am today by making stuff like this"

    1. Tim #3

      Re: Glass ceiling needed.


      1. Kevin Turvey

        Re: Glass ceiling needed.


  17. Robert E A Harvey


    Imagine if the component parts of Airfix kits just merged with each other when held together? No more tricky gluing! No more spotty youths sniffing plastic cement.

  18. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Seems to go against the current trend

    of completely unrepairable plastic of late.

  19. Crisp

    Can anyone else see a problem with this?

    What happens if I leave my self healing plastic phone on top of my self healing plastic counter top in bright sunshine?

    The last thing I want is my self healing plastic items healing to each other.

  20. Gobhicks

    Cool as far as it goes...

    ... but where is Imipolex after all these years since Gravity's Rainbow?

    Possible answer: already invented, now highly Classified?

  21. Martin H Watson

    Already available

    You can buy self-healing cutting boards in most art and carft shops. They are so clever.

    1. AdamT

      Re: Already available

      true, but they do start to get a bit knackered after a while. I've gone through (not quite literally) a few. Probably shouldn't have been using a stanley knife though ...

  22. Gavin Burnett
    Thumb Up

    I for one

    Welcome our self healing plastic overlords.

  23. Mermite


    No more caps or bridges. Just that red-tinted brilliantly white smile.

  24. Simon B

    Do I really need the plastic item to have red streaks to say ooh look at me I'm scratched to buggery, but don't worry in a few days I'll look normal again! How about just getting scratched and repairing itself quietly? Do we need the song and dance of mimicking nature by turning red???

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