Strong, durable materials are hard to recycle—they're designed to stand up to abuse. But research chemists at an IBM laboratory just published their discovery of a never-before-seen family of polymers that's super strong, self-healing, lightweight, and easy to recycle. And it was discovered completely by accident.
Dr. Jeannette Garcia was mixing up a standard recipe for a plastic polymer at an IBM lab when she inadvertently left out an ingredient. When she returned to the beaker later, the liquid mix had turned into a white plastic so strong, it couldn't be removed with a grinder. Dr. Garcia had to smash the beaker with a hammer to get the polymer out.