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Science technician blunders into composite innovation

Science communicators reckon scientific research drives innovation like petrol drives a car. If you’ve been reading this blog you’ve probably noticed I think innovation comes from lots of different places. Still, sometimes interesting innovations do come out of science labs.

Recently I saw an excellent example.

According to the story, Jeanette García accidentally skipped part of a routine chemical recipe, and ended up with a beaker full of something so tough she couldn’t get it out of the beaker. In fact, she could barely smash it with a hammer. The Science paper describes two promising new polymers based on that very tough something in García’s beaker. One is a gel with self-healing properties. The other (PHT) might be developed into a new resin for reinforced composite structures.

What I find surprising is that no-one seems very excited about this. I’m especially excited about PHT, which is 3 to 4 times stiffer than typical epoxy resins. There’s a bit of a hint that PHT could be developed into a new, extra-tough resin system. Tougher resin means stronger, more fatigue-resistant composite structures.

So, with a bit of luck and a lot of engineering work, García’s blunder might eventually lead to better cars, better boats, better aircraft, better spacecraft. And, perhaps most important, better fishing rods.


Kevin Cudby is a Wellington-based Freelance Writer and Parametric Modelling Consultant who loves writing about cool new technology. Email him to discuss your requirements: hello {a}

Science technician blunders into composite innovation

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