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Plastic isn’t over yet

Tough new form could extend applications of the 20th century material

2:39pm, November 17, 2011

A tough new plastic that’s easily healed if scratched or damaged could find use in products prone to getting beat up, such as paints or parts for cars and sailboats. What’s more, it can be ground up and recycled into completely new products like plastic molding for electronic devices or optical lenses.

By adding some extra ingredients to traditional epoxy resins and a dash of a zinc compound to help move the chemistry along, researchers made a material whose chemical bonds continually break and reform. At really high temperatures, the bonding switcheroo makes the material malleable, but the reactions are so sluggish at ordinary temperatures that the material’s shape is essentia

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