Eli5: When companies talk about “self healing” plastics like, in the case of, screen protectors for phones, what are they talking about and how does that work?

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Eli5: When companies talk about “self healing” plastics like, in the case of, screen protectors for phones, what are they talking about and how does that work?

In: Technology
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A self-healing material is one that has some way to repair itself without any sort of human intervention. That can take a variety of shapes, from including a repairing agent mixed into the material that takes some form of action in response to damage, to having the material re-form completely by itself.

In the case of plastics: pretty much all plastics are some sort of polymer. That means they’re made up of many repeated small units (monomers), each connected to the next in some way. Self-healing plastics have the ability to re-form certain bonds under normal operating circumstances (as opposed to “normal” plastics where you’d create and shape the material under high temperatures, pressures etc in a specific factory environment). It’s complex material science and I can’t give exact specifics, but that’s the gist of it.