Wolverine-Like Material Is In, Can Self-Heal And Is Low Cost

First Posted: Dec 29, 2016 03:00 AM EST

The character of Wolverine from Marvel Comics may be true to life. Scientists developed a highly stretchable, self-healing, transparent material that can be used to start up artificial muscles.

The new product is low cost because it is made with a soft, rubber-like material. It can stretch up to 50 times its original length. It can also heal by itself from a scissor cut in the space of 24 hours at a room temperature. The material can stretch two times its original length in just a span of 5 minutes after being cut, according to Science Alert.

Also, the material is an iconic conductor, of which it is capable of conducting electricity over the flow of ions. It is the first time that scientists connected an iconic conductor with the self-healing properties.

The study team from the University of California, Riverside and the Univerity of Colorado shared that it could be used in robotics, batteries, electronic devices and biosensors. A researcher from UC Riverside and also a fan of Wolverine, Chao Wang, said that, "Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years. We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications."

Though the stretchable and transparent iconic conductors have been developed before, combining these with the self-healing properties has proven to be tricky. For the material to self-heal, the researchers usually need non-covalent bonds between the individual molecules, which cannot share electrons.

The challenge is that to pass electricity through these bonds, it would degrade them. It is a problem for the self-healing material to keep self-healing.

As follows, Chao Wang searched for a solution. He used an ion-dipole interaction to hold the molecules together. It enables to combine charged ions with polar molecules, wherein the one end of the molecules has a positive charge and the other end has a negative.

In a report by Science Daily, the experts used two layers of the new material that have a transparent membrane in between, for them to create the artificial muscle prototype. It can move in return to the electrical signals. The response is the same way how the human muscles move when the brain gives the signal.

However, researchers need more time to perfect the material. But, the unique combination of properties could make the future robots and electronic devices much more resilient.

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