'Terminator' polymer independently repairs itself

"Terminator" polymer repairs itself "spontaneously and independently" after being cut in two with a razor blade.
By KRISTEN BUTLER, UPI.com   |   Sept. 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM   |   Comments

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Scientists in Spain have presented the first self-repairing polymer that can spontaneously and independently regenerate.

Researchers have dubbed the material the 'Terminator' polymer after the shapeshifting cyborg played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1984's "The Terminator."

Until now, no polymer has achieved spontaneous quantitative healing without a catalyst or other intervention.

Published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Materials Horizons, a video shows that the permanently cross-linked poly(urea-urethane) elastomeric network completely repairs itself after being sliced in two with a razor blade.

Adhering in a fashion similar to Velcro, the polymer achieved 97 percent healing efficiency in just two hours, according to researchers.

Created using common starting materials and an inexpensive method, the self-repairing thermoset elastomers can be used in common products right away.

Researchers say that the new polymer can increase the security and lifetime of common plastic parts used in electrical components, cars and even houses.

The fact that polymers with "similar chemical composition and mechanical properties are already used in a wide range of commercial products makes this system very attractive for a fast and easy implementation in real industrial applications," the authors wrote.

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