Prachi Patel-Predd in Technology Review:
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have made a polymer material that can heal itself repeatedly when it cracks. It’s a significant advance toward self-healing medical implants and self-repairing materials for use in airplanes and spacecraft. It could also be used for cooling microprocessors and electronic circuits, and it could pave the way toward plastic coatings that regenerate themselves.
The first self-healing material was reported by the UIUC researchers six years ago, and other research groups have created different versions of such materials since then, including polymers that mend themselves repeatedly when subject to heat or pressure. But this is the first time anyone has made a material that can repair itself multiple times without any external intervention, says Nancy Sottos, materials-science and engineering professor at UIUC and one of the researchers who led the work.