Car’s Scratches Heal Under Sunlight With This New Tech

No matter how careful you are while driving, scratches and dings on your car are inevitable. There are various types of protective shield available in the market nowadays, most of them to prevent the damage from reaching the underlying paint job and exposing the metal underneath (which would lead to rusting). But while the metal is protected, marks on the protective shield remain visible (not unlike your phone screen protector), and your car no longer looks smooth, shiny and new.

Self-healing protective coating is of course an option but there are a few downsides with materials that have “free molecular movement”, the same quality that lets them self-heal, such as low durability and the application of high heat to “activate” the “healing”. Also, this type of coating often has a colour of its own, which compromises the car’s original paint colour.

Researchers at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology have taken this technology a step further by adding a dynamic chemical bond to an existing commercial coating resin, which lets it have the best of both worlds: high durability and self-healing properties.

Even better, the hybrid protective coating heals itself when exposed to sunlight. When the material absorbs sunlight—to be specific, the near infrared light in sunlight in the wavelength range of 1,000 to 1,100 nm—the surface temperature rises, resulting in the chemical bonds in the polymer structure to repeatedly break and recombine or, in other words, heal. This process takes just 30 minutes or so.

You could scratch your car, park in an open-air lot, and by the time you finish your shopping and return to your car, the scratch has disappeared. This cutting-edge composition also includes transparent organic dyes, which means it can go over any paint as a clear coat and you would not even know it was there.

The researchers expect that their new discovery will not only be used in the automotive industry, but in various other applications such as to protect smartphones and computers. For this writer, it would be such a welcome convenience to be able to leave her gadgets and car under the sun for half an hour to erase away all evidence of her clumsiness.

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