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Self-Healing Fabrics Are The Future In Protective Clothing

Sewing kits just might become a thing of the past with the revolutionary self-healing textiles scientists have found from — of all things — squid, Digital Trends reports.

Researchers at Pennsylvania University have discovered that the self-healing properties of proteins in squid ring teeth can be replicated to produce a solution that can not only mend materials on its own but can also protect against chemicals.

The squid proteins were reproduced in a solution of yeast and bacteria, which can be applied to a tear. When warm water is added, and the torn edges pressed together, the fabric seams itself back together, like a magic trick.

The substance has not been named yet, but the solution is already marked for a number of significant applications. For example, textile manufacturers can coat fabrics in this liquid, making fabrics directly self-healing. Or the fibers produced by this protein can be used to generate cloth. These kinds of textiles will be able to repair themselves with minimum fuss.

Melik Demirel, the lead author on the study and professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State, has tested the protein solution on some common fabrics such as cotton, polyester, and wool. Even more impressive is that adding the liquid does not change the quality of fabrics, and could even go into regular washing machines.

Demirel says his team will continue to test if clothes can self-repair when the solution is poured into a laundry machine, like detergent, with water and heat added in.

Ultimately, Demirel says, this discovery is not merely for fashion purposes, but for more practical uses.

The squid-based protein could do wonders in protective clothing for soldiers, medical staff, farmers and factory workers. Workers in plants, for example, can be protected from skin exposure to chemicals and soldiers in the field can ward off biological attacks wearing full suits of this self-healing fabric.

The results of the study and experiments are astounding, so far. Demirel says, “For the first time we are making self-healing textiles.”

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