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Self Healing Polymers Repair in Less than 1 Minute

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Self Healing Polymers Repair in Less than 1 Minute

New self-healing polymers can heal themselves in less than 1 minute when exposed to UV light…

Scientists have developed a new self-healing polymer that repairs itself in just 1 minute when exposed to UV light. The new polymer, developed by Mark Burnworth and his colleagues uses a different approach to previous self-healing materials by relying on covalent bonds and heat.

The first self-healing polymers, developed by Biswajit Ghosgh and Marek W.Urban, split into reactive pieces that would fuse back together when placed under UV light for 30 mins to 1 hour. These materials could be useful as a protective coating for cars, and phones and other devices. Although Burnworth’s material is nothing new in that respect, his team has managed to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes these polymers to repair themselves.

self healing polymer diagram 550x245 Self Healing Polymers Repair in Less than 1 Minute

Self Healing Polymers Repair In One Minute

Burnworth and his team achieved this by using rubbery oligomers, or poly(ethylene-co-butylene), as the core of their material. They then attached ligands (Mebip) that are able to bind metal at the ends of the oligomers. Researchers then add zinc or lanthanum ion that form metal-ligand complexes with the Mebips and link the oligomers to each other.

The materials are able to self heal because the Mebip complexes are chromophroic, meaning they can absorb light of specific wave lengths, such as UV. When they absorb the light, they heat up and lose the energy as they cool off. The heat is sufficient to depolyermize the damaged area and once the light is removed everything it cools, the ligand-metals seal up once again.

The team didn’t mention when we could expect to see their material draping vehicles and device on the market , but they are testing polyermers under different UV wavelengths to see if any other materials fit the bill, and possible widen the application of such technology.

The findings were reported in the recent issue of Nature.


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