A group of Pennsylvania-based scientists managed to synthetize a new biosynthetic polymer that can serve as a basis for self-healing robot actuators, the Penn State University announced today. The curious contraptions were inspired by squid, or more specifically – the natural patterns of squid ring teeth. As such, the substance is not only capable of passively mending tears and similar forms of damage but is fully biodegradable.
While initially devised as a material for robotic actuators, the polymer also has sizable potential in the context of hazmat suit manufacturing and similar delicate applications which could benefit from self-restorating proteins. In more straightforward terms, these are essentially lab-grown muscles.
Inventors optimistic about their creation’s scalabiltiy
The squid-inspired substance is currently just a proof of concept, so its scalability hasn’t yet been called into question. That isn’t to say its inventors aren’t highly optimistic about its prospects; after all, numerous industries have been successfully leveraging such hybrid matter for a while now. Penn State researchers are hence confident the newly synthetized biopolymer will be able to serve the role of a versatile robotic material in the near future.
The substance was grown in conventional bacterial bioreactors, with iterative gene duplication being the key process that enabled its creation. As a result, its autohealing period has been reduced to a mere second, thus being a massive improvement over already existing material alternatives which can take up to 24 hours to return to full strength.