Self-Healing Plastic Mimics Skin

Self-Healing Plastic Repairs Itself When Exposed To Light @PSFK

A new plastic that bleeds and heals like human skin was demonstrated to the American Chemical Society this week. The plastic turns red when it becomes damaged, then repairs itself if exposed to light or temperature changes, with the color fading away as it heals itself.

Bruisable gadgets heal themselves in the sun - tech - 05 April 2012 - New Scientist

Marek Urban and colleagues at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg were inspired to create their self-healing plastic by signs of healing in nature such as newly formed tree bark.
Earlier self-healing materialsMovie Camera do not change colour and require focused laser light for repairs. This new material turns red when damaged and repairs itself when exposed to visible light or changes in temperature or pH. It can also fix itself multiple times, unlike previous materials.

New plastics 'bleed' when cut or scratched - and then heal like human skin

New plastics turn red when damaged, then heal
themselves when exposed to light.
Credit: Prof. Marek W. Urban, Ph.D.
“Mother Nature has endowed all kinds of biological systems with the ability to repair themselves,” explained Professor Marek W. Urban, Ph.D., who reported on the research. “Some we can see, like the skin healing and new bark forming in cuts on a tree trunk. Some are invisible, but help keep us alive and healthy, like the self-repair system that DNA uses to fix genetic damage to genes. Our new plastic tries to mimic nature, issuing a red signal when damaged and then renewing itself when exposed to visible light, temperature or pH changes.”

Urban, who is with the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg foresees a wide range of potential applications for plastic with warn-and-self-repair capabilities. Scratches in automobile fenders, for instance, might be repaired by simply exposing the fender to intense light. Critical structural parts in aircraft might warn of damage by turning red along cracks so that engineers could decide whether to shine the light and heal the damage or undertake a complete replacement of the component. And there could be a range of applications in battlefield weapons systems.

New Plastic Bleeds Red When Scratched, Then Heals Itself Like Skin | Popular Science

Unlike other self-healing materials, this plastic’s healing process can work over and over, he added. It could serve a variety of purposes, from things like nail polish to self-healing car fenders to airplanes. It would improve safety by drawing attention to a structural defect, and it could repair minor defects in the presence of intense light.

“Where degradation occurs or [there is] mechanical damage, the color would start to change,” Urban said.

The Defense Department funded part of his work.