Video of the week: Squid protein promotes self-repairing materials

Researchers in the US have turned to squid rings in the development of a coating that encourages materials to repair themselves.

One approach to self-healing materials has been to coat surfaces with multiple layers of polyelectrolytes of opposite charges.

According to the American Chemical Society, these molecules will diffuse through the film toward a defect to repair it, usually with the help of water or a dilute saline solution. These coatings can work quickly but are hindered under certain conditions.

For a more reliable coating, the researchers fabricated mechanically stable self-healing films through the construction of a polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer film containing squid ring teeth proteins.

These proteins are said to be tough and elastic under wet and dry conditions. When pressed together in water, cut pieces of cloth that had been dipped in the new coating reattached.

In addition to having applications for self-healing clothing, the researchers said the substance could be used as a “second skin” barrier that would protect wearers from chemical and biological warfare agents.

The research – described in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces – was undertaken by a team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University, Drexel University, and the US Naval Research Laboratory.