Odd Self-healing Gel is Not So Very Gel-like [Video]

Scientists have created a new composite material that is half liquid, but it doesn’t leak when cracked.

And it can quickly heal, over and over. Like a sponge, it returns to its original form after compression.

The material called SAC (for self-adaptive composite) consists of what amounts to sticky, micron-scale rubber balls that form a solid matrix. Researchers at Rice University made SAC by mixing two polymers and a solvent that evaporates when heated, leaving a porous mass of gooey spheres.

Other “self-healing” materials encapsulate liquid in solid shells that leak their healing contents when cracked.

“Those are very cool, but we wanted to introduce more flexibility,” says Pei Dong, a postdoctoral researcher who co-led the study with Rice graduate student Alin Cristian Chipara. “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. But we wanted the liquid to be stable instead of flowing everywhere.”

They think the material could be a useful biocompatible material for tissue engineering or a lightweight, defect-tolerant structural component.

Continue on to see a fascinating video showing how this novel self-healing substance works.