In the post-science fiction world of 21st century living, the hits keep on coming, and here’s a self-healing hero of Wolverine proportions to consider.
Chao Wang, PH.d, a researcher at University of California, Riverside, presented what he called his “self-healing transparent polymeric material for use in soft robotics and electronic devices like smartphones”, at an American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco yesterday, according to Futurism, a news site covering transformative technologies. So the next time you drop your phone on the floor or down the toilet and the screen cracks, fear not, it could repair itself.
“When I was young, my idol was Wolverine from the X-Men,” Wang told the conference. “He could save the world, but only because he could heal himself. A self-healing material, when carved into two parts, can go back together like nothing has happened, just like our human skin.”
Wang’s team has combined a stretchable, polar polymer with a mobile, ionic salt. The polymer then interacts with the salt creating a material capable of stretching 50 times its starting size and stitching itself back together again completely within the space of a single day after being ripped in half, or even cut with a pair of scissors. The material is conducive enough for use with electronics or artificial muscles.
Currently the only area of study still incomplete is knowing how much pressure must be applied to the material for it to self-heal. But once that’s cracked, your smartphone screen will never be anything but smooth again. It may take two years before it becomes commercially available, but one day soon your phone’s about to take on new life.