Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Self-assembling chew toy too good to be true

Today's Wall Street Journal report on self-healing materials is a rare example of hype-free nanotech reporting. It leads with a reference to the "Terminator" movies, but that's just to get the average reader hooked. Then it quickly loses the sci-fi analogy and goes into real research. Here's my favorite part: "NASA scientists pursuing this research are spending much of their time on the golf course. Instead of playing 18 holes, they are studying the outer-coating of golf balls -- a plastic called surlyn. Surlyn is found in everything from bowling pins to dog-chew toys because of its ability to take a beating. Surlyn … has the ability to heal itself at the nano-level when damaged. For reasons still being studied, surlyn's molecules unite once they are separated." I can't wait to tell my puppy, Thurston, about this! Self-healing chewy toys! We need to get a couch and all our shoes made out of this material right away. But, there's always a catch. The article then goes on to say, "NASA doesn't believe surlyn is the answer for its program because it likely won't be able to handle the ravages of outer space -- including massive radiation … Still, researchers are studying it because they believe any self-healing material they develop will have many of the same properties as surlyn." Here's a link to the WSJ article, but you'll need a subscription to access it. Sorry, I wish all content were free and all journalists highly paid, but I have to respect the rights of publications that want to charge for their online content. But if you want to learn more about self-healing nanomaterials, take a look at these articles. Researchers working to employ nanotechnology in self-healing coatings Will nanotechnology define the next material world? Nanotech is literally coming alive through use of biomaterials Discuss

No comments: