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IBM Research Accidentally Discovers New Class of Ultra-Strong, Recyclable Polymers [Video]

Update Date: May 16, 2014 09:41 AM EDT

Scientists at IBM Research have discovered the first new class of polymers in 20 years that is self-healing, ultra-strong and recyclable.

The new polymer is discovered using a combination of lab experiments and computer modeling and equips properties that could potentially have a huge impact in transportation, aerospace, manufacturing and micro-electronics.

The polymers are codenamed Titan and Hydro. While this is gel, that is rigid. Researchers said Titan (rigid) could become the part of the next generation of computers.

According to the research, when Titan is mixed with carbon nano fibers and is heated, it forms an extremely strong, lightweight composite material that is similar to metals.

Hydro, on the other hand is mostly liquid and quite flexible. It also has the 'self-healing' property which makes it a potential candidate for developing powerful-on-contact adhesive.

Both of these polymer versions are recyclable.

"Although there has been significant work in high-performance materials, today's engineered polymers still lack several fundamental attributes. New materials innovation is critical to addressing major global challenges, developing new products and emerging disruptive technologies, " said James Hedrick, Advanced Organic Materials Scientist, IBM Research, in the press release.

"We're now able to predict how molecules will respond to chemical reactions and build new polymer structures with significant guidance from computation that facilitates accelerated materials discovery. This is unique to IBM and allows us to address the complex needs of advanced materials for applications in transportation, microelectronic or advanced manufacturing."

The IBM team's research was published in the journal Science.

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