New Elastic Material Could Lead to Self-healing Machines

Published Date : May 22, 2018

A number of organisms are known to possess the ability of repairing themselves. Thanks to the invention of a new material, manufactured machines can also very well be able to have this capability now. According to the results of a study that were published in the journal Nature Materials this week, researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University have invented a self-healing material that can repair itself after undergoing extreme mechanical damage.

The material, a soft-matter composite, is made of liquid metal drops suspended in a soft elastomer. When the material undergoes damage, the droplets suspended in the elastomer form new networks with adjacent droplets and continue to carry electrical signals without getting interrupted. Circuits that were made using traces of the material for conductance demonstrated continuous and complete operational capability even when they were punctured or severed.

Similar research studies revolving around soft electronics have been able to deliver materials that are deformable and elastic but are still vulnerable to mechanical damage that immediately leads to electrical failure. On the other hand, the newly invented self-healing material features an unprecedented level of functionality and can thus enable machines and electronics made from the material to exhibit resilience as extraordinary as is showcased by organisms and soft biological tissues.

The material can have a wide range of applications, including wearable devices, human-machine interactions, and bio-inspired robotic devices. As the material also exhibits an impressive electrical conductance, which does not change even when the material is stretched, it can prove to be an ideal option for a number of applications in the field of data transmission and power.