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Squid Teeth Inspire Self-Healing Plastic


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There will likely never be a time that there is nothing left to learn from Nature. In this case researchers at Penn State and from around the world have taken a lesson from squid teeth to create a plastic that heals itself when water is added. This has potential biomedical applications and could even be used for repairing breaks in the fiber optic cables under the ocean.

The researchers found that all squid around the world share a similar protein that gives their ring teeth a self-healing property, though there are variations to the protein depending on the species. To keep from depleting the squid population, the researchers used biotechnology to make bacteria create the proteins for them. The resulting copolymer consists of two parts. One part is strands of amino acids that serve to give the polymer its strength. The other part is an amorphous segment, and this is what provides the self-healing capability.

As you can see in the video below, the researchers were able to cut the polymer in half and heal it by applying warm water and pressure. After it healed, the polymer returned to its original strength, demonstrating the effectiveness of its healing properties.



Source: Penn State

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