A material, made up of thiol-ene-trialkylborane liquid resin, sandwiched between two polymer panels, has been developed by a team from the University of Michigan and NASA. As long as the resin is contained in the airtight space between the panels, it stays in its liquid form. When the material is pierced by a projectile, however, the resin leaks out of the hole and polymerizes upon contact with the air in the ship. The material hardens as soon as it is exposed to the slightest bit of oxygen. As a result, it instantly forms a solid airtight plug in the hole.
It is hoped that the technology could ultimately be applied to vulnerable areas inside the hulls of spacecraft or space stations – because the resin and panels are both transparent, it could conceivably also be used on their windows. A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Macro Letters.