Sponsored By
Norbert Sparrow

April 9, 2016

2 Min Read
Polymer that repairs itself at body temperature suited for medical applications

While a number of self-healing polymers have been developed in labs across the world, scientists at the universities of Reading and Oxford in the United Kingdom have taken the technology a step further with a material that can repair itself at body temperature, opening up exciting new medical possibilities. In particular, the technology shows promise for the advent of self-healing wound dressings.

“The supramolecular polyurethane ‘flows' like a liquid when cut or scraped, filling in the damage in a couple of hours before its molecules bind together to become solid again,” reported the University of Reading in a press release. Because it works at temperatures as low as 37°C (98.6°F), the polymer is ideally suited for healthcare applications, noted the release.

"Anyone who has had to replace an old bandage knows it can be very painful and can easily damage healing skin,” said Professor Wayne Hayes, from the University of Reading's School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, who led the research. The non-toxic material could “maintain a sterile barrier as part of a wound dressing while constantly repairing and renewing itself, reducing the need for replacement. It could even be adapted to naturally break down over time, similar to dissolvable stitches, making it suitable for internal use in surgery as well as for dressing wounds,” added Hayes.

Beyond healthcare, the material’s restorative properties could be applied to everything from car paint to mobile phones, enabling scratches or scuffs to be automatically repaired by exposure to mild heat.

The research was sponsored by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and was conducted at Reading and Oxford universities. A paper has been published in the journal, Chemical Science.

The video embedded below explains how the self-healing polymer works.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.


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