With the constant spread of Covid-19 infection, it is always important to keep the mask clean. After re-wearing and washing, these masks can shrink and leave the virus exposed through small, threaded holes.
Researchers are working to solve this problem before it becomes commonplace to synthesize special proteins found in squid to create a self-healing substance that can prolong the life of both masks and fans.
In a study published in the magazine on Monday Natural materials, a team of materials scientists and engineers from Germany, Turkey and Penn State describe how they have been able to turn unique squid proteins into soft, biodegradable material that could be used to build soft robots, and tear ̵1; resistant personal protective equipment (PPE). ).
The self-healing substance itself is not a novelty in the field, but the available self-healing substances can heal in up to 24 hours, and its resistance to damage is much lower, the researchers explain.
Their new, squid-inspired material, on the other hand, can withstand tears and cuts and correctly heal damage. one second – maintaining 100 percent of the previous strength.
Abdon Pena-Francelsch, the first author of the study and a former PhD student in the state of Pen, said in a statement that the conversion of these natural proteins into substances allows them to even surpass nature.
“We were able to shorten the typical 24-hour healing period to one second so that our protein-based soft proteins could now revive immediately,” Pena-Francelsch said. “In nature, self-healing takes a long time. In that sense, our technology overshadows nature.”
How it works – By simulating a protein found in squid ring teeth, the team created a synthetic protein made up of so-called “tandem repeats” or repeats of DNA.
By controlling how these repeats occur in the protein, the team was able to create an incredibly strong cross-protein network. Like velcro, which can be separated and endlessly glued together, the DNA repeat order contained in these proteins makes their molecular network incredible resistance to permanent damage.
According to Meln Demirel, co-author of the study and chairman of Huck Biometrics in the state of Penny Reverse that despite resistance, this wound healing is not self-sustaining.
“It’s not activated by itself,” Demirel says. He explains that the material needs water or pressure to restore the spark. “We envision that in the future the method will be able to be done with light.”
What were the results – To test the resistance of its new material, the team tested it in a series of tests, including tearing or cutting and using it to form human muscles that could lift 3,000 times more than its own weight.
Compared to other self-medication materials that can take more than 24 hours to treat, the researchers found that their material was able to recover after an injury in just one second, making it much more resistant in situations such as hospitals where a piece of PPE can be fatal in minutes.
During the research, the team also found that after repairing the material, it was able to regain 100 percent of its strength compared to other materials that would lose some strength in each repair cycle.
The authors argue that not only to develop resistant PPE, but this material could also be used to create wear-resistant soft robots or even prosthetic limbs.
The future of PPE – Demirel says it is not only developing light principles for initiating self-medication for the substance, but is also looking to expand the process in the coming years. The goal is to develop products, such as prosthetics or PPE, for the non-laboratory environment.
Part of what fascinates about this option is the possibility of biodegradable and environmentally friendly technologies that would enable this substance, explains Demirel. Unlike materials based on difficult-to-degrade polymers, this biomimetic material can be rapidly dissolved in a simple acid such as vinegar.
“When it comes to protecting the environment, squid protein not only gives it a new look, it also gives it a circularity,” says Demirel. “Future masks or fans can be both green and high-performance.”
Annotation: Self-healing materials are essential for soft drives and robots operating in dynamic and real-world environments because these machines are vulnerable to mechanical damage. However, current self-medication materials have drawbacks that limit their practical application, such as low healing strength (less than megapascals) and long healing times (hours). Here we present high-strength synthetic proteins that, by local heating, automatically heal micro- and macro-scale mechanical damage. These materials are systematically optimized to improve the hydrogen-coupled nanostructure and network morphology. Therapeutic properties are programmed (strength 2–23 MPa after 1 s of treatment), which several times exceed the properties of other natural and synthetic soft materials. Such treatment effects create new opportunities for the development of bio-inspired materials and highlight the existing limitations of soft robots and personal protective equipment self-healing materials.