Researchers create novel, self-healing autonomous material

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 08, 2010 07:20 hrs

It's not uncommon for us to see self-healing robots like 'Terminator' but only in movies. Now, researchers at Arizona State University have created a material that exhibits self-healing properties.

The material may be able to not only sense damage in structural materials, such as cracking in a fibre-reinforced composite, but to even heal it.

The aim of developing "autonomous adaptive structures" is to mimic the ability of biological systems such as bone to sense the presence of damage, halt its progression, and regenerate itself.

Developed by Henry Sodano and colleagues, it uses "shape-memory" polymers with an embedded fiber-optic network that functions as both the damage detection sensor and thermal stimulus delivery system to produce a response that mimics the advanced sensory and healing traits shown in biological systems.

An infrared laser transmits light through the fiber-optic system to locally heat the material, stimulating the toughening and healing mechanisms.

The material system is capable of increasing the toughness of a specimen by 11 times.

After toughening the specimen, the crack can be closed using the shape-memory effect to recover an unprecedented 96 percent of the object's original strength.

The material and healing process can be applied while the structure is in operation, which has not been possible with existing healing techniques. (ANI)