Self-healing paint hides scratches

A self-healing paint may soon be knocking spots off the more minor car insurance claims, thanks to researchers in the US.

They have developed a polyurethane coating that can repair its own scratches in much the same way that human skin does.

It mimics chitosan, a substance in crab shells, and works in less than an hour when exposed to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight.

The findings by Dr Marek Urban and Biswajit Ghosh, from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, are reported in the journal Science.

Says Dr Urban: "Because cross-linking reactions are not moisture sensitive, dry or humid climate conditions will not affect the repair process."

But he warns against scratching the same place twice: "If exactly the same spot is damaged again, the ability for further repair may be limited by its thermosetting characteristics."

On the other hand, no-one need ever know about that prang in the supermarket car park...

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