A new synthetic material that can strengthen and repair itself could be beneficial for the construct industry if enhanced further.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have created the new material that can react with carbon dioxide from the air to grow, strengthen and repair itself by performing a chemical process similar to how plants incorporate carbon dioxide from the air into growing tissues.

“This is a completely new concept in materials science,” Michael Strano, the Carbon C. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering, said in a statement. “What we call carbon-fixing materials don’t exist yet today. These materials mimic some aspects of something living, even though it’s not reproducing.”

The researchers used a gel matrix composed of a polymer made from aminopropyl methacrylamide (APMA) and glucose, a glucose oxidase enzyme and chloroplasts—the light-harnessing components within plant cells. This material becomes stronger as it incorporates the carbon, but it not yet strong enough to be implemented as a building material.

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