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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

French Rubber

posted by on February 20 at 15:48 PM

Holy shit! The French have invented a rubber that can repair itself.

The as-yet-unnamed material - a form of artificial rubber - is made from vegetable oil and a component of urine.

The substance, described in the journal Nature, produces surfaces when cut that retain a strong chemical attraction to each other.

Pieces of the material join together again as if never parted without the need for glue or a special treatment.

This remarkable property comes from careful engineering of the molecules in the material.

The French researchers are already making kilogramme quantities in their Paris laboratories and say the process is almost completely green, and could be completely so with a few adjustments.


François Tournilhac, who runs Dr Leibler’s laboratories, demonstrated the healing to me.

Using a razor blade he severed a thin strand of the yellowish material (the colour of corn oil), showed me the clean square faces, and then pressed them together.

Almost immediately, the grip was strong enough for him to hold the sample just at one end.

Within an hour the bonds had rebuilt themselves so thoroughly that it was possible to stretch the strand to twice its length without any sign of weakness where the cut had been made.

Those who have read William Gibson’s Idoru know what’s now in my head. This technology is much like the technology that rebuilds Tokyo after the great earthquake in the novel’s near future.

RSS icon Comments


Wow! I especially like the green aspect.

Posted by Michael | February 20, 2008 4:12 PM

They SAY it is green...until we discover in 30 years it releases toxins into the air that cause our lungs to turn to black mushy tar.

Posted by Andrew | February 20, 2008 4:15 PM

They should make condoms out of this.

Posted by Katelyn | February 20, 2008 4:16 PM

Ooooh! Kinky!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 20, 2008 4:21 PM

Vegetable oil and urine? I discovered this myself a few nights ago.

Posted by JMR | February 20, 2008 4:25 PM

But what if it repairs itself after it breaks?

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 20, 2008 4:29 PM

The Future Is Now!

Posted by Michigan Matt | February 20, 2008 4:34 PM

Plausible deniability, Will......

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 20, 2008 4:37 PM

This story reminds me of the recent study that found that DNA strands can recognize and seek out similar molecular structure over distance, to help swap genes and recombine:

Posted by Peter F | February 20, 2008 4:41 PM

My reaction was pretty similar to Charles'. Holy shit!

Posted by Vasya | February 20, 2008 4:42 PM

I thought that it was nano-mites that were used to rebuild tokyo in that book. Call me picky, but microscopic little autonomous construction robots are a far cry from rubber and piss in my book.

Posted by Super Jesse | February 20, 2008 4:44 PM

I was thinking more of "Gravity's Rainbow"'s Imipolex-G, myself.

Posted by levide | February 20, 2008 4:44 PM

I thought the post WAS about self-repairing condoms at first, what with Mudede's frequent Europeanisms.

Posted by leek | February 20, 2008 4:57 PM

Clearly the superior usage for this rubber is self-repairing bicycle tyres.

Posted by treacle | February 20, 2008 5:05 PM

Condoms are for pussies.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 20, 2008 6:01 PM

Since it's as yet unnamed, can I suggest calling it "rupbber". That's rubber with "p" in it.

Posted by skweetis | February 20, 2008 6:17 PM

according to Chas it is 'a rubber' they've invented, not 'rubber' so happy happy joy joy for all those shooting live ammo!!

Posted by ho' know | February 20, 2008 6:31 PM

Yeah I think that's why I thought condoms... "a" rubber

Posted by Katelyn | February 20, 2008 7:20 PM

Million dollar question is whether or not it dries out. Here in Arizona, cars would last forever if not for gaskets, cracking dashes and rubber seals since there's no rust.

Posted by Steve | February 20, 2008 8:39 PM

Man, do you remember the days when stuff would, like, break? Seriously, things would crack, split, chip, sometimes even SHATTER. And that was it, you couldn't use that thing anymore. You'd have to go out and buy a new one. That's some crazy ass shit, man. Musta sucked living in the dark ages like that.

Posted by NaFun | February 21, 2008 9:17 AM

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