As we get closer to realizing that we need to get rid of plastic in the future — and in general, any substance that does not have the ability to heal itself — some groups of scientists and researchers are starting to experiment with such materials in an increasingly bold way. And today there is news that an independent team of material engineering specialists from the University of Texas in the USA has developed a special type of self-healing material, mainly consisting of liquid rubber that has the ability to polymerize – that is, it can be artificially hardened.
By itself, the material is flexible and interesting in terms of its modification – it is based on the use of the notorious liquid rubber, treated in a special way so as to react to ultraviolet rays and change its shape depending on their direction and intensity. Moreover, the material itself was prepared using a special 3D printing technique called laser stereolithography, which involves the use of highly concentrated and precise lasers that can carry out their manipulations with the material.
Most of the material, including its surface layer, consists of a hardened liquid rubber, and inside it are tanks with a not yet hardened rubber base. Thus, when the surface of the material is under stress and cracks, the material itself begins to deform – and at this moment the liquid rubber that has not yet solidified inside these tanks begins to go outside and, with exposure to ultraviolet light, restores the material.
Despite the preliminary nature of this study and the material itself, scientists already now see the obvious fact that their development will soon become one of the most interesting and basic in terms of creating other, more multifunctional and promising materials. Thus, we have before our eyes a good alternative to the commonly used plastic, which, moreover, does not know how to self-repair itself.