University of Southern Mississippi Polymer Science Professor Invents Innovative Self-Repairing Plastic

Share Article

Dr. Marek Urban, a polymer science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, has developed a unique plastic material that turns red or “bleeds” when damaged and repairs like human skin when exposed to sunlight.

Dr. Marek Urban, Polymer Science Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Marek Urban, Polymer Science Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi

I believe there are endless possibilities, and we continue our research in hopes of capturing those possibilities that can further enhance our quality of life through the products we access daily.

Dr. Marek Urban, a polymer science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, has developed a unique plastic material that turns red or “bleeds” when damaged and repairs like human skin when exposed to sunlight. The material has the potential to be developed into self-repairing surfaces in a wide variety of commonly used products, including cell phones, laptops and military weapons.

Earlier this year, Urban made a presentation on the invention at the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society. The invention was also featured in the British publication Stuff, a magazine published by Haymarket Media Company covering the latest in popular technology. The magazine cited the invention as among “five materials that could change the world” in its May edition.

“I dreamed of developing this after thinking about how human skin repairs itself when damaged, and how blood coming from the injury works as a sign of that damage,” Urban said. “Sometimes, damage to material may not be visible to the human eye, but with the release of the colors that mimic bleeding we have a warning of damage.”

When the damage to the plastic occurs, the molecules split and release a color simulating bleeding. After exposure to sunlight or change in temperature, the material begins repairing itself in much the same way human skin does. Urban is enthusiastic that further research, with the assistance of graduate students and staff in his Urban Research Group, can extend the material to usage in cars, planes and spacecraft, as well as large infrastructure. The development of similar material that can also withstand high temperatures is also in the works.

“Dr. Urban is one of the most inventive people I’ve come across,” said his Southern Miss colleague Dr. Robert Lochhead. “He has a valuable talent that is rarely found; that is, to have an original idea that meets human or societal needs, and then to take that idea to an invention and implement it.”

Adds Urban, “I believe there are endless possibilities, and we continue our research in hopes of capturing those possibilities that can further enhance our quality of life through the products we access daily.”

About The University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at http://www.usm.edu.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Visit website