Scientist Chao Wang is part of a team that has developed a conductive material that is transparent, stretchable, and self-healing a la Wolverine.

In a new research paper published in Advanced Materials, scientists have presented a new ionic conductor, something which ions can freely flow through, that has a range of properties, key among those is self-healing.

Ionic conductors are used in a host of items, such as the ion batteries used in electronics and electric cars. Wang, inspired by his lifelong love of the Marvel comic book hero, Wolverine, was inspired to make a material with the ability to self-heal, hoping that it would extend the life of ion batteries, and give increased durability to medical tools and environmental biosensors.

“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years,” explained Wang, referring to the material’s conductive properties, as well as ability to stretch and self-heal.

Self-Healing Ionic Conudctor
Self-Healing Ionic Conductor

Christopher Keplinger, another author of the research paper, cites the material’s use in future artificial muscles, which would allow them to self-heal after damage. With the ability to stretch 50 times its original length.

As for its healing properties, the material can fully reattach, or “heal,” in 24 hours after being cut, all at room temperature. In fact, the material was shown to be able to stretch twice its length after only five minutes of healing. The material is said to be cost-effective and easy to produce.

Perhaps a little worryingly, Wang reveals his hopes that his self-healing ionic conductor could be used in robots, allowing them to self-heal after damage, as well as a massive advantage in any future conflict with the robot uprising, although Professor Wang glosses over this altogether in his paper.

Until then, however, this new ionic conductor will go a long way in improving the battery life of the many smart and electronic devices that power our basic necessities.

Photos via University of California, Riverside, 20th Century Fox