Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Now, self-healing materials can mimic human skin, healing again and again

12.06.2007
The next generation of self-healing materials, invented by researchers at the University of Illinois, mimics human skin by healing itself time after time. The new materials rely upon embedded, three-dimensional microvascular networks that emulate biological circulatory systems.

"In the same manner that a cut in the skin triggers blood flow to promote healing, a crack in these new materials will trigger the flow of healing agent to repair the damage," said Nancy Sottos, a Willett Professor of materials science and engineering, and the corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the journal Nature Materials, and posted on its Web site.

"The vascular nature of this new supply system means minor damage to the same location can be healed repeatedly," said Sottos, who also is a researcher at the university's Beckman Institute.

In the researchers' original approach, self-healing materials consisted of a microencapsulated healing agent and a catalyst distributed throughout a composite matrix. When the material cracked, microcapsules would rupture and release healing agent. The healing agent then reacted with the embedded catalyst to repair the damage.

"With repeated damage in the same location, however, the supply of healing agent would become exhausted," said Scott White, a Willett Professor of aerospace engineering and a researcher at the Beckman Institute. "In our new circulation-based approach, there is a continuous supply of healing agent, so the material could heal itself indefinitely."

To create their self-healing materials, the researchers begin by building a scaffold using a robotic deposition process called direct-write assembly. The process employs a concentrated polymeric ink, dispensed as a continuous filament, to fabricate a three-dimensional structure, layer by layer.

Once the scaffold has been produced, it is surrounded with an epoxy resin. After curing, the resin is heated and the ink - which liquefies - is extracted, leaving behind a substrate with a network of interlocking microchannels.

In the final steps, the researchers deposit a brittle epoxy coating on top of the substrate, and fill the network with a liquid healing agent.

In the researchers' tests, the coating and substrate are bent until a crack forms in the coating. The crack propagates through the coating until it encounters one of the fluid-filled "capillaries" at the interface of the coating and substrate. Healing agent moves from the capillary into the crack, where it interacts with catalyst particles.

If the crack reopens under additional stress, the healing cycle is repeated.

"Ultimately, the ability to achieve further healing events is controlled by the availability of active catalyst," said Kathleen S.
Toohey, a U. of I. graduate student and lead author of the paper.
"While we can pump more healing agent into the network, 'scar tissue'
builds up in the coating and prevents the healing agent from reaching the catalyst."

In the current system, the healing process stops after seven healing cycles. This limitation might be overcome by implementing a new microvascular design based on dual networks, the researchers suggest.

The improved design would allow new healing chemistries - such as two-part epoxies - to be exploited, which could ultimately lead to unlimited healing capability.

"Currently, the material can heal cracks in the epoxy coating - analogous to small cuts in skin," Sottos said. "The next step is to extend the design to where the network can heal 'lacerations' that extend into the material's substrate."

With Sottos, Toohey and White, the paper's other co-authors are Jennifer Lewis, the Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and interim director of the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, and Jeffrey Moore, a William H. and Janet Lycan Professor of Chemistry and a researcher at the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory and Beckman Institute. White, Sottos and Moore co-invented self-healing plastic; Lewis and White pioneered direct ink writing of three-dimensional microvascular networks.

The work was funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Beckman Institute.

James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
Further information:
http://www.news.uiuc.edu/news/07/0611sottos.html

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Move over, Superman! NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion
27.04.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Control of molecular motion by metal-plated 3-D printed plastic pieces
27.04.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Control of molecular motion by metal-plated 3-D printed plastic pieces

27.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Move over, Superman! NIST method sees through concrete to detect early-stage corrosion

27.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>