A small team of researchers at the University of Tokyo has created a polymer that can be repaired when broken into two parts by applying a small amount of pressure at room temperature. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they came upon the polymer, how it was made, and how well it can be repaired.
Engineers around the world have been working hard to find a type of glass or plastic that can be healed easily when broken to address the problem of broken screens on phones and other portable devices. While some progress has been made, there still exists a need for something better. In this new effort, the researchers report on a new type of plastic that can be healed by simply pressing the broken pieces back together. As the researchers describe it, a team member was investigating glue properties with polymers when they discovered that one of the polymers under study could mend itself just by pushing the pieces together.