A new plastic which 'heals itself' has been created and promises to make cracked phone screens a thing of the past one day in the future.
The new polymer is able to automatically patch holes as wide as 3 centimetres, 100 times greater than was previously possible.
Taking inspiration from the way human blood works, the plastic contains a network of capillaries that transport repairing chemicals to damaged areas.
The hunt for material that can mimic plant or animal ability to repair itself has been on for decades with the dream of broken water pipes one day being able to repair themselves, faulty chips in electronic devices automatically fixing themselves and satellites being able to maintain themselves.
The first major breakthrough in the field came in 2001 when the University of Illinois' Professor Scott White infused a polymer with a liquid healing agent that was released when the material cracked to bridge the gaps.
Since then concrete, water-resistant coatings and electrical cables have all been engineered with self-healing characteristics. But the new material goes a step further in that previous attempts could only fix small-scale breaks.
White says, "Although self-healing microscopic defects has been demonstrated, the re-growth of materials lost through catastrophic damage requires a regenerative-live approach."