Plastics are often seen as the bane of our existence in the 21st century, or a question-raising issue at the least. Plastics are literally everywhere these days and you’ll find them on things as small as your cellphones and earphones, to your computer screens, cars, and practically almost everything else you can think of. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where there is more plastic on earth at the moment than human beings!
We’re becoming totally outnumbered and overwhelmed by the stuff and it’s starting to take its toll on not only the environment’s health but our health directly. So where do we start when it comes to reducing the amount of plastic waste we create? A scientist in Colorado might have the solution.
The concept of ‘self-healing’ is something that we only tend to associate with organic materials. Cells in our body, for instance, have been programmed over millions of years to organize themselves in accordance with the biological needs of our bodies. In other words, when you’re wounded, after a while, your body will heal itself granted that you’re healthy enough to do so.
But when we treat our wound medically, it tends to heal quicker. In essence, Mostafa Yourdkhani believes that by applying the same principle to inorganic materials like plastic – we can not only preserve the plastic goods that we have but ultimately help to reduce the amount of plastic that we throw away.
The plastic polymer works off a scientific principle known as ‘van der Waal’s force’ which in essence relates to the interaction between molecules and atoms and when applied to the correct atomic chain, can enable cracks and scratches in the material to heal – much like a cut would heal on our skin. The material looks a lot like Plexiglass and should be available to retailers in the near future. Yourdkhani hopes that he will be able to tweak more existing materials to share these properties rather than trying to create new materials from scratch.