Science French Rubber
posted by February 20 at 15:48 PMon
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.