Wolverine-Inspired Material Has An Amazing Ability To Heal Itself

Posted: Dec 26 2016, 10:25am CST | by , Updated: Dec 26 2016, 10:49am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Wolverine-Inspired Material has an Amazing Ability to Self-Heal
Credit: University of California - Riverside
 

New self-healing, highly stretchable conductive material could be used to improve batteries, robots and electronic devices

Researchers from University of California have developed a transparent, highly stretchable material that can be used to make robots, batteries and other electronic devices and could give them the ability to self-heal when they break down. 

The material can conduct electricity and reacts when voltage is applied. This conductive material is oriented in a way that it can automatically repair itself if torn apart. When cut in half, both sides of tear attract towards each other and seal up gap like comic book character Wolverine who has the ability to self-heal. After being cut, the material can completely re-attach, or heal, in 24 hours at room temperature and almost regains its original state without showing much signs of degradation.

The material could have vast implications on many fields from making self-healing robots to extending the lifetime of electric car batteries.

“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years,” said Professor Chao Wang, who is one of the researchers involved in the study. “We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications.”

Conventional self-healing materials require an external trigger to start off the healing process. The new material uses a mechanism called ion-dipole interactions for highly stable and reversible under electrochemical conditions. 

Researchers have combined a stretchable polymer with a high-ionic-strength salt to create the material with the properties the researchers were seeking. The end result is a low cost, conductive and a soft rubber-like material that can stretch 50 times its original length. 

This material could be used to power a so-called artificial muscle. Artificial muscle is a generic term used for materials or devices that can reversibly contract, expand, or rotate due to an external stimulus such as voltage, current, pressure or temperature. Just like humans move the muscles of their body when they receive signals from brain, the artificial muscle also reacts when it receives a signal from an internal trigger. In this way, the material replicates human’s wound healing ability.  

Researchers claim that the artificial muscle recovers its function and returns to the same level of performance as before being cut.

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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