Researchers have been working on creating self-healing materials for a while now, and if you look around YouTube, you can find a handful of videos of them in action. But this week a research team described a new material that they claim is even faster at healing, able to repair a puncture wound in about a second.
The material hardens once it interacts with oxygen
The material is an almost liquid resin that hardens as soon as it's exposed to the slightest bit of oxygen. In order for it to work, the resin has to be sandwiched between two walls; should the walls be punctured — by, say, a bullet or debris in space — the resin will immediately react with the incoming oxygen and plug the gap. The research comes primarily from the University of Michigan, with funding coming from NASA. The study was published this week in the American Chemical Society's ACS Macro Letters.
In their paper, the researchers suggest that this material could be used for lining the wall of a fuel tank, an airplane hull, or the wall of a spacecraft. Basically, self-healing materials will be helpful for anything pressurized and at risk for a breach, since a hole would cause whatever's inside — whether it's gasoline or oxygen — to be quickly expelled.