This Self-Healing Plastic Is Perfect For Real Clumsy People

By Jamie Condliffe on at

We know some of you are so clumsy you can barely walk without falling over. Fortunately for you, a new type of plastic can heal itself when scratched, dented or just generally beaten up.

By adding some extra ingredients and a pinch of a zinc compound to a traditional epoxy resin, a team of French researchers have made a plastic whose chemical bonds continually break and reform. When it's cold, the material is pretty rigid, maintaining its shape. Warm it up, though, and the plastic becomes malleable, allowing the material to heal small scratches and dents.

Normally synthetic plastics fall into two types: thermoplastics and thermosets. The former can be heated and remoulded but are weak, and the latter can only be processed once but are strong. This new plastic sits in the middle: it's possible to remould it, but it's also strong. It even maintains its properties when it's ground up and recycled.

It sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is. But I want everything plastic I own from now on to be made out of it. [Science via Science News]

Image credit: CNRS/ESPCI/Cyril Fresillon