Wolverine Inspires Scientists To Create Self-Repairing MaterialBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Scientists were able to develop self-repairing material that is expected to increase the lifespan of electronic devices. This discovery is also believed to pave the way for the development of self-repairing robots.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that a team of scientists from around the world described the first synthetic ionic conductor, which is a material that is see-through, self-repairing and highly-stretchable. Their study has been published in the journal "Advanced Material." The material was said to be inspired by Wolverine. The Marvel antihero has the ability to regenerate his cells and heal himself.
Author Chao Wang, a material chemist at the University of California Riverside, said that the creation of this type of material has, for years, been a puzzle for researchers. Dr. Wang added that they are still looking into how the material can be used.
According to UCR Today, the project was inspired by wound healing. Self-repairing materials can help lower the cost of devices since it heals the damage caused by wear and tear. It was noted that one of the major challenges of the project is in identifying the bonds that are stable and reversible when exposed to electrochemical conditions. Typical self-repairing polymers are held together by noncovalent bonds, which can be unstable at times.
Dr. Wang and his team were able to solve this problem by using ion-dipole interactions. This is a mechanism that uses forces between charged ions and polar molecules that are highly stable under electrochemical conditions. They mixed a polar, stretchable polymer with a high-ionic-strength salt. This resulted to the material that had the properties they were looking for.
The soft, rubber-like material developed is low-cost and easy. It can also be stretched to 50 times its original length. When it's cut, it can reattach in 24 hours at room temperature. Moreover, after just five minutes of healing, it can be stretched to twice its original length.