In a major breakthrough, Japanese scientists have developed a new type of plastic that is stronger, stretchier, biodegradable, and can remember complex shapes. This new material, dubbed VPR, is a type of vitrimer, a class of plastics that is known for its strength and ability to be reshaped. However, vitrimers are also notoriously brittle, which has limited their applications.
VPR overcomes this brittleness by incorporating a molecule called polyrotaxane into its structure. This gives VPR the ability to stretch and bend without breaking. Additionally, VPR can be heated to temperatures of around 150 degrees Celsius to reshape it into new forms. This makes it ideal for a variety of applications, such as medical devices, robotics, and packaging.
VPR is also partially biodegradable. When submerged in seawater for 30 days, it biodegrades by 25%. This is because the polyrotaxane in VPR can be broken down by marine bacteria. This makes VPR a more sustainable alternative to traditional plastics, which can take hundreds or even thousands of years to decompose.
Overall, VPR is a promising new material with the potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries. Its unique combination of strength, stretchiness, biodegradability, and shape-shifting abilities make it ideal for a variety of applications.