Freaky ‘Terminator’-Style Material May Lead To Safer Space Travel

Scientists have developed a “Terminator”-style material that instantly heals itself if it’s pierced by a fast-moving object. If you find that hard to believe, have a look at a new video (above) that shows what happens when the material is pierced by a bullet.

The material could make space and air travel safer. If a fast-moving micrometeoroid or space debris were to puncture the wall of a spacecraft, for instance, the new material could instantly plug the hole within seconds — before air inside the spacecraft leaks out. Hasta la vista, baby.

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“The purpose of the material in spacecraft is to mitigate and ideally completely prevent disastrous atmosphere loss,” Dr. Timothy Scott, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the lead author of a paper describing the material, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Self-healing materials offer tremendous advantages over more conventional, static structures in terms of their ability to recover from deleterious, though non-catastrophic, events, which in turn could significantly increase their useful lifetime.”

The material is made of two polymer sheets with a liquid in between. The liquid — a resin known by the tongue-twisting name “thiol-ene trialkylborane” — hardens instantly when exposed to oxygen.

This isn’t the first “self-healing” plastic, New Scientist reported. Other materials, however, take much longer to repair themselves.

The paper was published online in the journal ACS Macro Letters on July 27, 2015.

The new material was discussed during HuffPost Live’s Nerds Forum segment on Tuesday — check out the discussion below.

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