The new material, dubbed a "Terminator" polymer in tribute to the shape-shifting, molten T-100 terminator robot from the "Terminator 2" film could be used to improve the security and lifetime of plastic parts in everyday products such as electrical components, cars and even houses, the researchers wrote in the Materials Horizons journal of Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry.
It is the first self-healing polymer that can spontaneously achieve quantitative healing in the absence of a catalyst, they said, and after being cut in two and the pieces pressed together, a sample displayed an impressive 97 per cent healing efficiency in just two hours, being unbreakable when stretched manually.
The self-healing thermoset elastomers were created from common polymeric starting materials using a simple and inexpensive approach, the researchers reported.
"The fact that poly(urea-urethane)s 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," they said.
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