From the last scientific researches, several different self healing materials were studied and developed : thermoplastic polymers containing high quantity of hydrogen bonds, hollow fibers or hybrid resins containing healing ingredients and scratch guard coat.
In particular Grado Zero Espace is studying supramolecular polymer based materials, in order to integrate and develop complex self healing structures for many different applications including building, furniture, textiles, medical, sport and safety equipments, protective coatings,...
Supramolecular polymer are thermoplastic polymers doped with a special healing agent able to change viscoelastic properties of the final co-polymer by temperature increasing.
The objective was, in fact, developing of thermoplastic polymers able to melt at very low viscosity, in order to increase their workability. Many scientific studies were carried out, bringing to obtainment of self healing materials also at industrial level.
An example is demonstrated by a coating made of polybutadiene elastomer modified with a dimer developed by SupraPolix BV. It was damaged with a sharp object, heated at 140°C, observing a good flow of liquid material able to expand and cover all the damaged surface. After cooling down the original coating properties are restored again and the damaged area is not visible anymore.
Similar approach was used by Prof. Tournilhac from Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution (ESPCI) of Paris, obtaining a rubber-like material able to self heal after being snapped in two and gently pressed.
Advantage in using supramolecular polymer is related to their non-toxic components or catalysts, their possible customization for integration in several thermoplastic polymers and simplicity and low cost of their synthesis.
Possible applications, still not developed, include building, cosmetics, ink-jet printing, electronics and as coating for wood, textiles, shoes, gloves,...