Self-Adapting Composite Heals Itself

A self-adaptive composite material (SAC) developed at Rice University has both self-healing and reversible self-stiffening properties.


(Postdoc Pei Dong holds Self-Adapting Composite )

The material, called SAC (for self-adaptive composite), consists of sticky, micron-scale rubber balls that form a solid matrix. The researchers made SAC by mixing two polymers and a solvent that evaporates when heated, leaving a porous mass of gooey spheres. When cracked, the matrix quickly heals, over and over. And like a sponge, it returns to its original form after compression.

SAC may be a useful biocompatible material for tissue engineering or a lightweight, defect-tolerant structural component.

In SAC, tiny spheres of polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) encapsulate much of the liquid. The viscous polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) further coats the entire surface. The spheres are extremely resilient, Lou said, as their thin shells deform easily. Their liquid contents enhance their viscoelasticity, a measure of their ability to absorb the strain and return to their original state, while the coatings keep the spheres together. The spheres also have the freedom to slide past each other when compressed, but remain attached.

Everybody knows that the idea of self-healing materials dates from at least 1951 - in this story: Asteroid of Fear, by sf great Raymond Z. Gallun. Consider this unique plastic that can repair itself:

But the wide roof was all the way up, now—intact. It made a great, squarish bubble, the skin of which [a 'transparent, wire-strengthened plastic '] was specially treated to stop the hard and dangerous part of the ultra-violet rays of the sun, and also the lethal portion of the cosmic rays. It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures that grain-of-sand-sized meteors might make.
(Read more about self-healing plastic)

Fans of the great J.G. Ballard know that he described a bendable, self-healing material in his 1962 short story The Thousand Dreams of Stellavista. Ballard wrote about plastex, a unique building material.

Via KurzweilAI.

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