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Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a new novel coating material which can self-heal within seconds after being scratched, scraped, or cracked. Here’s how it works — and how it could be one day be used to protect valuable infrastructure from corrosion.

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Its interesting to think that when we refer to materials and their ability to withstands scratches and scrapes, we usually use words like toughness and durability. Referring to a materials ability to hold out against abrasion. 


The reason for this is because most materials are unable to heal their damages once it occurred. Obvious right?


Well not now, Researchers at the Northwestern University have truly broken the mold when it comes to a material being able to ‘fix’ itself.


Indeed they have broken the mold by err, not breaking it,.!


Rather that exhibiting permanent damage when scraping or scratching occurs etc they have developed a novel material than can heal itself in seconds. 


The end goal for this breakthrough is to hopefully one day be corrosion prevention method that can help eliminate the kind of damage that occurs to big structures. 


The unique thing about is that unlike other preventative products the oil does not drip, bonds very well and can rapidly heal when damage occurs. 


This self healing coating can be used to prevent the corrosion of metals with an easy surface application. 


The breakthrough was achieved by modifying an oil solution with light & hollow Graphene particles. Measuring just microns in size the particles build a network in the oil which prevents the oil solution from shrinking or dripping. 


However when a scratch occurs they still allow oils to flow when the network and bonds are broken. This then heals the area that is damaged. 


In fact researchers found that this corrosion prevention solution was able to keep to performing long after it was applied. The exact same spot was re scratched over 200 times repeatedly. Still it returned to original state, visible undamaged. 


The lab at Northwestern University has warned against too much hype for the material. It is early days still. 


The material has only been demonstrated on small surface area samples. Though they not foresee problems when scaling up extensive testing still needs to be done. 


One future application could be for emergency underwater repairs where metal coatings have been damaged. 


Watch this space!