Up till now, we have only known humans to have self-healing abilities, but it looks like modern day science is aiming to challenge these notions. Researchers working at the University of California, San Diego, have successfully developed a self-healing electronic device which can repair itself when broken by utilising a special magnetic ink bridging gaps as wide as 3 millimetres (0.12 inches).
This is a groundbreaking research and a new record in the field as it works a lot faster than other self-healing materials while requiring absolutely no external input to carry out the patch-up job. The scientists are now looking to utilise the breakthrough in multiple ways, including batteries and sensors for wearables.
The technology can be used in virtually any kind of way, even in electrical circuits embedded in clothing as they are crafted using microscopic magnetic particles moulded into conductive materials such as graphite, gold, and silver.
Amay Bandodkar, who was one of the team said in an interview,
“We wanted to develop a smart system with impressive self-healing abilities with easy-to-find, inexpensive materials.”
The team created the material by using magnetic microparticles of neodymium, which is a cheap, conductive metal known for its particles’ large magnetic fields, which allows them to attract each other over a gap of a few millimetres. To make them suited to electrochemical, scientists added carbon black to the mix which is used in devices like sensors and batteries. This final addition gave the ink all the amazing self-healing properties.
The problem of cancellation of microparticles’ magnetic fields was figured out by the team by printing the ink alongside an external magnetic field which ensured that the particles were correctly oriented and would only produce attractive forces.
The researchers claim that any damage can be repaired within about 50 milliseconds or 0.05 seconds. The ink is also capable of pulling devices back together even if they are repeatedly damaged from the same place.
The magic of the new ink was put on the show when the researchers cut through a shirt entailing a self-healing circuit along with a LED light and battery. Amazingly enough, the circuit repaired itself within a few seconds with the LED switching on again like nothing ever happened!
Although there are some problems such as a clear scar left behind by the tears and the magnetic field interfering with other devices, the technology is no doubt one of the most amazing ones in the modern day.
Team team leader Joseph Wang said, “Our work holds considerable promise for widespread practical applications for long-lasting printed electronic devices.”
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