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New touch-sensitive, self-healing polymer could lead to the most advanced prosthetics yet

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Self-healing polymer
Self-healing polymer

Scientists across the globe have been working on self-healing materials for some time, but the latest efforts by a team at Stanford have led to a significant advancement. They’ve managed to devise a material that can not only heal itself at room temperature, but also respond to touch. The synthetic which is able to fully repair itself in around 30 minutes when damaged was created by combining nickel particles with a plastic polymer, giving the team a malleable substance with excellent conductivity.

Better yet, the material has longevity: testing revealed that even after cutting the substance 50 times in the same place, the sample retained its original strength. The conductive nature of the material means that it could be used in more advanced prosthetics, allowing users to detect the pressure of handshakes or flexing of the joints. Right now, though, the team is working on a way to make the substance transparent and stretchy so that it can be applied to electronic devices such as smartphones as well as displays.