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Just add water and this squid-inspired plastic heals itself

Timothy J. Seppala, @timseppala
September 3, 2015
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While you've been busy scarfing down fried calamari rings, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have been doing something else with squid. Namely? Studying the cephalopod's ring teeth for a way to create a material that heals when water's present, much in the way that those tentacle-bound choppers do. The way the report spotted by Popular Science tells it, the researchers were able to reproduce the type of proteins found in the self-healing squid teeth and trigger bacteria to make it in a lab environment.

To test just how strong the new material was, the scientists formed the protein into the shape of a dog bone and cut it in two with a razor blade. After pressing the two segments back together, dousing them with a bit of water and applying pressure, the pieces fused and were still as strong compared to before they were cut. Like PopSci notes, this type of material could be used to coat things deep-sea internet cables or perhaps help biomedical devices have a longer lifespan, but is still a ways off from primetime. That and it still needs to be tested against shark bites, of course.

[Image credits: Getty/Jeff Rotman (lead), Demirel Lab/Penn State (lab photo)]

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