Self-healing liquid developed to bind torn fabrics together
Researchers at Penn State University has currently created a special self-healing, polyelectrolyte liquid that essentially allow everyday clothes to repair themselves with which the days of patching up a torn pair of jeans with spare fabric may soon be over
Made from bacteria and yeast, the liquid can help most fabrics bind together once torn. It contains proteins similar to those found in squid ring teeth, which also have self-repairing qualities.
The healing process involves putting the substance on the torn fabric, applying warm water, and pressing the edges together. The fabric then reattaches, effectively repairing itself. The said coating, called polyelectrolyte, consists of positive and negatively charged polymers.
Melik C. Demirel, a professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, said that they were looking for a way to make fabrics self-healing using conventional textiles. So they came up with this coating technology, the invention could prove beneficial for expensive clothing, such as wool and silk, which are not cheap to replace or repair.
The liquid could also be applied to new clothing as a coating, so garments would have the inherent ability to repair themselves with a little water and pressure.
They currently dip the whole garment to create the advanced material, said Demirel. But they could do the threads first, before manufacturing if they wanted to. As the thin coating will increase the overall strength of clothing, could also be tailored to particular fabrics.
According to the researchers, the coating could protect farmers from exposure to organophosphate pesticides, soldiers from chemical or biological attacks, and factory workers from accidental releases of toxic materials. It could also be used on medical meshes to minimize the risk of infection.
The special liquid, when applied to any torn fabric, does not affect its quality and is strong enough for machine wash.
The research was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.