A material designed by MIT chemical engineers can react with carbon dioxide from the air, to grow, strengthen, and even repair itself.
The current version of the new material is a synthetic gel-like substance that performs a chemical process similar to the way plants incorporate carbon dioxide from the air into their growing tissues.
“This is a completely new concept in materials science,” says Strano, the Carbon C. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering.
It is not yet strong enough to be used as a building material, though it might function as a crack filling or coating material, the researchers say.
Commercial applications such as self-healing coatings and crack filling are realizable in the near term, they say, whereas additional advances in backbone chemistry and materials science are needed before construction materials and composites can be developed.