A simple drop of warm water self-heals a multiphase polymer derived from the genetic code of squid ring teeth. The bonded material, which researchers say may someday extend the life of medical implants, fiber-optic cables and other objects that are hard to repair in place, can be cut and retains the same strength as unbroken bioplastic once it self-heals.
The researchers first noted that the important proteins with self-healing properties were found in the ring teeth of squid collected around the world. However, the yield and composition of the proteinaceous material varied among species. To ensure a consistent yield, secure a uniform material and avoid depleting global squid populations, the researchers used biotechnology to create the proteins in bacteria. The polymer can then either be molded using heat or cast by solvent evaporation.