It’s not difficult to imagine all kinds of applications for self-healing materials, from buildings and roads that repair their own cracks, to car fenders made from shape-memory polymers that automatically flex back to shape after low-speed collisions, or a crack due to a impact in Space or simply recover the aging effect of Martian wind, in a terraforming shelter.
The first self-healing materials we’re likely to see in mass production will be paints and coatings that can better survive the weather and other kinds of surface wear-and-tear
Polymers don’t always need sophisticated internal systems, such as embedded capsules or vascular tubes, to repair internal damage. Some of them break apart to reveal what we might think of as highly “reactive” ends or fragments that naturally try to join up again. Energized by either light or heat, these stray fragments naturally try to rebond themselves to other nearby molecules, effectively reversing the damage and repairing the material.
Some break to expose electrically charged ends, which give the broken fragments a built-in electrostatic attraction. When damage occurs, electrostatic forces pull the fragments together, enabling the material to self-repair.
Self-healing polymers mend themselves by reforming broken cross-linking bonds. However, the cross-linking healing mechanism usually requires an external stimulus such light, heat or others.
A Spanish Scientists group have reported the first self-healing polymer that spontaneously and independently repairs itself without any intervention. The researchers have dubbed the material a “Terminator” polymer in tribute to the robot of the movie.
Image :Royal society of Chemestry
This skill perfectly, fits with environments where human intervention is hardly to act, like in the Space .