Conventional materials maintain this state after tearing breaks, but some magical materials have “self-healing” properties. A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently announced a new scheme based on conductive polymers. Not only can it recover after suffering a cut, but it is also very different from the competition scheme. Typically, self-healing materials rely on fluid substances released when they are cut, but their new conductive polymers maintain their full shape at all times.
Video screenshot (from: Carnegie Mellon University)
The new material is made from an autonomously repairable polymer process called polyborbosiloxane, which is characterized by the ability to repair broken connections without external stimulation, such as light and heat.
The team combined it with multi-walled carbon nanotubes to add conductive and self-healing properties to the new material. When cutting it in half, the connection keys between the seams gradually break.
Self-Healing Device Gain or Regain Function After After BeI Cut (via)
The researchers expect new materials to be used in a wide range of applications in the future, such as sensors and electrical equipment that are reassembled or laid out as needed.
To demonstrate its capabilities, the team created a touch-response keyboard using Smart Polymers. Then cut it open so that the four soft controllers remain independent of each other. But when they are together, they can work together again.
In another demonstration, the team demonstrated a pneumatic actuator made of intelligent polymers that could be used to drive robots. (Research Report . . . PDF)
The actuator can be cut in the middle, rotated in half, and reconnected in different directions to give it a completely different form factor while maintaining normal functionality.
Another idea is to use it for reusable broken arm models, sealing itself around the limbs and even adjusting itself over time to speed up healing.