Self-Healing Material Opens up ‘Opportunity’ for Carbon Dioxide

One thing about lizards that always amazed us while growing up was the fact that they have regenerating limbs. In a recent research, chemical engineers at MIT have designed a polymer material that somewhat has similar properties, as it can grow, strengthen and even repair itself, just by reacting with carbon dioxide from the air as reported in the journal, Advanced Materials. The material continuously converts CO2 into a self-reinforcing carbon-based material, which could be used for construction, repair or protective coatings.

The synthetic, gel-like substance could be made into panels of a lightweight matrix that could be shipped to a construction site. There, exposure to air and sunlight would cause the panels to harden and solidify – saving on both energy and the cost of transportation. Such materials would be self-repairing upon exposure to sunlight or some types of indoor lighting: If the surface gets scratched or cracked, the affected area would grow to fill in the gaps and repair the damage. The new material, which incorporates mass from the ubiquitous carbon in the atmosphere, needs nothing to activate the process apart from ambient light.

With this research, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this material figuratively has lizard DNA in it.