Inspired by Leaves and Human Skin:

Two Air Force Office of Scientific Research-funded scientists have been honored recently for their breakthrough research in self-healing plastics. Scientific American recognized Scott White and Nancy Sottos, both professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the magazine’s 2007 “SciAm 50” awards list that cites outstanding technological leadership. NASA also featured their research in its top seven technologies for 2007. White and Sottos have demonstrated a new synthetic material inspired by human skin and plant leaves. It continually repairs itself using a three-dimensional microvascular network that supplies a liquid healing agent to damaged areas. This basic research shows promise for a new class of robust composite materials that could one day be used in aerospace vehicles and weapon systems. (AFOSR report by Molly Lachance)