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AdBuzz Lead copyYou are late for an appointment and park in the first available spot that you can find, only to return to find scratches on your car.

Sound familiar?

Many of us have wondered that if the automobile industry can come up with ingenious inventions for car interiors such as Bluetooth stereo systems, climate control, satellite navigation and cruise control devices, then why not something for the exterior as well?

Well, the wait might not have to be much longer. Teams of scientists working in different parts of the world ranging from Michigan to Mississippi are working on ‘self-healing’ or ‘self-cleaning’ paints.

While scientists in Detroit have developed a paint which uses natural light to break down pollutants that attach themselves to your car’s paint to keep it clean, the University of Mississippi team is using chitosan – a complex carbohydrate which is found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters. When sunlight falls on it, it causes the scratched (damaged) chips of the paint to come together to ‘heal’ the scar. This process does not depend on the humidity or temperature, and only requires direct sunlight; the time required for the ‘healing’ to take effect is an estimated 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Audi is taking things to the next level by developing a paint which will employ nano technology. This paint will not just heal itself in case of fading or scratching, but will also allow the driver to change the colour of the car with the touch of a button.

The commercial applications of the technology are tremendous, as are the benefits for end-users. It just remains a matter of time before this technology is integrated into mainstream automobile production. So getting a scratch on your car in the future might not be such a big deal after all.

– Haroon Rasheed

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 6, 2014.