We might not be able to build a liquid metal T-1000 killing machine yet, but we just took a huge step towards building a plastic one. Scientists have managed to develop a new polymer that — when cut in half — can heal all by itself. Pretty awesome trick.
Developed by a team of Spanish scientists, the material is technically a “permanently cross-linked poly(urea-urethane) elastomeric network,” but they just call it a “Terminator polymer” for short.
The science behind the scenes is a little complex and specific for the layman, but the results however, are easy to see. In just two hours of sitting around, the plastic can meld itself back together and recover 97 per cent of a fully-severed connection. No catalyst required. This is definitely Terminator-esque, but the practical uses for something like this are a little less murder-y, like more durable plastic components in cars, gadgets, and whathaveyou.
Still, it’s impressive to see something futuristic like this in action. According to the authors of the research — published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Materials Horizons — it shouldn’t be hard to produce either:
The fact that poly(urea-urethane)s with similar chemical composition and mechanical properties are already used in a wide range of commercial products makes this system very attractive for a fast and easy implementation in real industrial applications.