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This material is almost impossible to break and can repair itself

This material is almost impossible to break and can repair itself

Researchers have developed a new class of materials they call “vitreous gels.” It differs from other materials in terms of its extensibility, self-healing ability and adhesion strength. According to researchers, they have the potential to replace fragile and soft plastic materials.

Normally, gels are solid like glassy polymers. This is a category of plastic that is characterized by its solid structure and solidity at room temperature. These plastics are used in various industries, for example to make acrylic glass, lenses, displays, safety equipment and more.

But unlike glass polymers, the new gels cannot crack or break easily. When force is applied, it simply stretches. Vitreous gels can extend up to five times their original length in this way.

Once stretched, it can also repair itself. This happens when it is heated. This is what the scientists who published a study about it say In the journal Naturein press release. Even when gels are broken, they can reattach themselves to each other. Another unusual property is that glass gels can adhere well. Moreover, it conducts electricity.

Production is easy

This in itself is not the first material that can heal itself, but according to researchers, it is the first that combines this with all the other properties mentioned. The team now wants to investigate further how the gels are used.

“Making glass-like gels is a simple process that can be accomplished by hardening any type of mold or by 3D printing,” says Michael Dickey, one of the authors of the paper. “For most plastics with similar mechanical properties, manufacturers must manufacture the polymer as a raw material and then transport that polymer to another facility where the polymer is melted and formed into the final product.” Therefore, producing glass gels would not be a challenge, which is the case with other “wonder materials”, such as graphene.

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Watch a demo of the material: