Scientists have been working on self-repairing films for years. This technology could have a wide range of applications ranging from biomedical implants to clothing. This could increase a product’s useful life dramatically.
One approach that could be used to boost products’ lifetime is to coat surfaces with multiple layers of polyelectrolytes of opposite charges. These molecules diffuse through the film toward the defect when the surface is scratched. With the help of a little water or a dilute saline solution, the scratch is then repaired.
Existing coatings, although they do work quickly do however have some severe limitations. One of these is that they crack under dry, warm conditions. As a result, scientists have been looking for a more versatile material to use. Walter J. Dressick, Melik C. Demirel and colleagues merged proteins from squid ring teeth in their coating. These proteins have the advantage of being both tough and elastic under wet and dry conditions.
Cut pieces of cloth that had been immersed in the new coating were pressed together in water. The pieces then reattached to each other. In tests rips in cotton, linen and wool “healed” themselves. Not only can the new coating be used for everyday self-healing clothing, according to researchers, it could also be used as a “second skin” barrier. This will protect wearers from biological and warfare agents.
Study has been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.