Friday, 03 Apr, 2009 Science

Coating that Makes Scratches on Devices Heal Themselves


Scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi managed to develop technology that makes the scratches on different devices "heal" themselves. The technology also proved to be effective against scratches on cars and furniture.

To be able to protect your device from scratches, it would require coating with a special polyurethane treatment. The transparent coating has a number of unique properties some of them being borrowed from chitosan, which is a material that makes the exoskeletons of crustaceans and insects hard.

Chitosan is mixed with oxetane, an organic compound with a four-membered ring, having three atoms of carbon and one of oxygen (molecular formula C3H6O). The Oxetane is rather unstable, which is important for the healing of scratches.

If you scratch the coating, you break the oxetane ring. Sun's ultraviolet rays serve as a mechanism that turns on the chitosan, which in its turn binds the molecule pieces together and closes the ring, which "heals" the scratch. In natural sunlight the whole process might take around 30 minutes, informs

It is worth mentioning that previous the attempts to create a coating that heals its own scratches showed little effect. The latest technology, however, shows promising results. The coating is still in the development stage and there's no information when it will be ready for commercial use. Besides, it is yet unknown what happens when two scratches appear on the coating and when they intersect.

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