"Current self-healing materials have shortcomings that limit their practical application, such as low healing strength and long healing times (hours)," the researcher report in today's issue of Nature Materials. The researchers produced high-strength synthetic proteins that mimic those found in nature. Like the creatures they are patterned on, the proteins can self-heal both minute and visible damage. "Our goal is to create self-healing programmable materials with unprecedented control over their physical properties using synthetic biology," said Melik Demirel, professor of engineering science and mechanics and holder of the Lloyd and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair in Biomimetic Materials. Robotic machines from industrial robotic arms and prosthetic legs have joints that move and require a soft material that will accommodate this movement.