Rapid, Puncture-Initiated Healing via Oxygen-Mediated Polymerization

Autonomously healing materials that utilize thiol–ene polymerization initiated by an environmentally borne reaction stimulus are demonstrated by puncturing trilayered panels, fabricated by sandwiching thiol–ene–trialkylborane resin formulations between solid polymer panels, with high velocity projectiles; as the reactive liquid layer flows into the entrance hole, contact with atmospheric oxygen initiates polymerization, converting the liquid into a solid plug. Using infrared spectroscopy, we find that formulated resins polymerize rapidly, forming a solid polymer within seconds of atmospheric contact. During high-velocity ballistics experiments, additional evidence for rapid polymerization is provided by high-speed video, demonstrating the immediate viscosity increase when the thiol–ene–trialkylborane resins contact atmospheric oxygen, and thermal imaging, where surface temperature measurements reveal the thiol–ene reaction exotherm, confirming polymerization begins immediately upon oxygen exposure. While other approaches for materials self-repair have utilized similar liquid-to-solid transitions, our approach permits the development of materials capable of sealing a breach within seconds, far faster than previously described methods.”