One of the most annoying feelings as a driver is getting out of your car to see a long unsightly scratch lodged into the side, and just knowing you’ll have to take time out to get it fixed at a mechanic.
Well, those days of having to get your vehicle repainted might soon be over, as scientists at a research facility in Korea have discovered a new type of coating that can heal scratches by harnessing power from the sun. The work was published in the ACS Applied Polymer Materials.
The coating is a network of polymers that are able to break and repair their chemical bonds under near-infrared light. It is mixed with an organic photothermal dye that captures light. The coating is triggered by heat and, due to its colorless nature, can blend in with even the brightest blue or red paint jobs.
This new self-repairing substance was tested on different cars and placed under the sun to see if natural light and heat would work. It did, in fact, work, and it only took 30 minutes for the scratches to disappear.
However, if 30 minutes is too long, scientists have also found that concentrated light—like shining a magnifying glass over the area—will get the job done in almost 30 seconds instead. As an added bonus, the reparative matter can remove scratches from the same spot over and over again.
While self-healing coating already exists and can be added to cars, most will need UV light to work and it will take much longer to repair the damage. Nissan provides its own Scratch Shield, though it would take up to a week for it to work.
The problem with existing curative materials is that they use inorganic bases that require particular conditions to work in. This discovery of using organic dyes instead taps on the sun as one great power source.
Cars are not just where this substance’s abilities stop. In fact, according to the press release, the research team is also finding ways for it to be used on cracked smartphone screens and even on buildings.
[via New Atlas and Inverse, images via various sources]