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A newly invented self-adaptive material can heal itself and recover from extreme compression, serving as a potentially useful tool for tissue engineering or the creation of lightweight, defect-proof structural components.

The material called self-adaptive composite or SAC – born out of Rice University in Texas and presented in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces of the American Chemical Society – combines self-healing and reversible self-stiffening components.

SAC is made up of sticky and micron-scale rubber balls forming a solid matrix. It was produced through a combination of two polymers and a solvent evaporating when heated – a mix that creates a porous mass of gooey spheres.

The matrix heals quickly even when cracked repeatedly and returns to its initial form after being compressed, much like the usual sponge.

Self-Healing Material Goes A Notch Higher

Other self-healing materials today enclose liquid in solid shells that leak their healing properties when cracked. The Rice researchers thus focused on one crucial aspect: greater flexibility.

“We wanted a biomimetic material that could change itself, or its inner structure, to adapt to external stimulation and thought introducing more liquid would be a way,” explained postdoctoral researcher and co-study lead author Pei Dong in a press release, also emphasizing their goal for the liquid to stay stable rather than flow everywhere.

In SAC, here is how it works: tiny polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) spheres enclose much of the liquid, while the entire surface is further covered by viscous polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS).

Read More: Techtimes

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