Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:

Dynamic materials

The chemistry of self-healing

A reversible covalent reaction in which two oxygen-insensitive radicals combine to form a carbon–carbon bond provides the mechanism by which a polymer gel can self-heal at room temperature without the need for any external stimulus.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Self-healing materials.


  1. Imato, K. et al. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2011).

  2. Ghosh, B. & Urban, M. W. Science 323, 1458–1460 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Kawasaki, T. & Iwamoto, T. US patent 6,890,978 (2005).

  4. Lehn, J.-M. (ed.) Comprehensive Supramolecular Chemistry (Pergamon, 1996).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cordier, P., Tournilhac, F., Soulié- Ziakovic, C. & Leibler, L. Nature 451, 977–980 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Chen, X. et al. Science 295, 1698–1702 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Ghosh, B., Chellappan, K. V. & Urban, M. W. J. Mater. Chem. 21, 14473–14486 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Ramachandran, D., Liu, F. & Urban, M. W. RSC Adv. 2, 135–143 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marek W. Urban.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Urban, M. The chemistry of self-healing. Nature Chem 4, 80–82 (2012).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing