Plastics that repairs itself

A plastic that could repair itself when broken without using glue has been developed. Called supramolecular polymer, the new type of plastic is being developed by the chemical company AkzoNobel in collaboration with Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. The new plastic, which has been called Supra B, takes advantage of a kind of bonding that gives water its viscosity and surface tension. Known as hydrogen bonding, it uses the attraction between hydrogen atoms and other atoms such as oxygen or nitrogen. In Supra B, the scientists have managed to quadruple the number of hydrogen bonds between the small plastic, or polymer, molecules so that it is as strong as other forms of plastic, but does not require a chemical reaction to join them together. According to, Graham Armstrong, corporate director of research, development and innovation at AkzoNobel, said: "We are working on polymers that are able to heal themselves. They use supramolecular chemistry, which exploits some of the lessons we have learned from the way proteins bind together in biology. It means we can have solids that genuinely can heal." Andrew Burgess, chief scientist at AkzoNobel, added that the material could lead to new scratch resistant coatings for vehicles, laptops and other portable equipment. What we want to do therefore is to adapt this principle, using either this chemistry or a similar one, to create a hard, protective coating that exhibits good self-healing.
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