The creation consists of two layers of solid polymer with a liquid gel sandwiched between them. If one or both of the polymer layers are punctured, the gel mixes with oxygen let in through the wound. The oxygen mixes with an ingredient within the gel called tributylborane, which creates a reaction that turns the liquid center into an instant plug that seals up the hole.
The new NASA-backed material isn’t the first self-healing plastic, but it is the first to react so quickly. Thanks to the chemical reaction, the new material heals in a matter of seconds, even after being shot with a gun.
Applications for the self-healing material are plentiful, especially for NASA. Instantaneously plugging holes would be particularly useful for spacecraft, which are regularly under siege by floating objects and debris. Immediately sealing any potential leak could save astronauts from a potentially deathly situation.