With sustainability top of the architectural agenda, one of the most pressing issues in many designers' minds is how to extend the life of buildings. While the old-fashioned methods of robust materials, adaptable structures and careful maintenance will undoubtedly play a role in this future, one of the biggest advances made in recent years has been the development of self-healing materials. In the past few years, we've seen demonstrations of self-healing asphalt, concrete and metal that could help to significantly improve the endurance of buildings - and now it seems it's the turn of plastics.
This video shows a flexible and transparent polymer created by researchers from the University of Alicante, which after being damaged can re-fuse in just 10-15 seconds to return to its original strength. According to the researchers, the material is also non-reactive, meaning it can perform this party trick even if submerged in water or other fluid - making it suitable for use in difficult environments that might prevent access for human repairs.
While the researchers predict that their breakthrough will have its widest applications in the field of medicine, there's nothing to say that it couldn't be applied by a forward-thinking architect - and if the desire for other self-healing building materials is anything to go by, we might be seeing an increasing number of self-healing plastics being used in architecture in the near future.
News via the University of Alicante