A new material which can self-repair when it is damaged has been designed by a team from the University of Southern Mississippi.
The innovative plastic imitates the ability of human skin to heal over. The plastic reveals when it has been damaged by turning red. Then, if exposed to sunlight or artificial light, which causes changes in its temperature and pH, it can repair itself.
The self-repair mechanism consists of long polymer chains that are crossed by small molecular links known as bridges. When the plastic is damaged or cracked, the bridges break and modify their shape. This change causes the typical red colouring. Therefore, when the plastic becomes damaged, it will be possible to see this easily through the red mark that forms around the lesion.
When the broken bridge comes into contact with sunlight, the polymer chain repairs itself by ‘rebuilding’ the bridge and eliminating the red mark.
The new plastic is a sign of innovation and progress compared to other plastics which can only self-repair once. The product developed in the United States works just like human skin and can self-repair forever.
Considering that this new material could have great potential and numerous applications, is the Commission aware of the innovation and does it consider that there would be environmental or human health risks should it be used in Europe?