Much like in the Marvel movies, scientists have been able to engineer a self-healing material that could be used in robotics in the near future. Up until now, the capability to regenerate damaged composition at incredibly fast rates has only been regarded as nothing more than sci-fi. Nevertheless, this didn’t prevent a team of scientists from the University of California-Riverside to engineer a self-healing material that could help future robots regenerate without the help of external stimuli after a mechanical failure.
The researchers have made their discoveries public in the journal Advanced Materials on Friday, December 23rd.
The self-healing material has a rubber texture, is highly stretchable, and see-through. The scientists say that it a tear in the fabric will be fully healed without any help from external stimuli after 24 hours. However, the healing process actually starts only five minutes after the damage has been made.
“This is the first time that a self-healable material has been created that can restore multiple properties over multiple breaks”said Qing Wang, professor of materials science and engineering, Penn State.
Furthermore, it can also be electrically activated in order to power artificial muscles, improve battery life, electronic devices, and ultimately robots. According to the team of scientists, a piece of brand new material can be stretched up to 50 times its original length. Also, a piece of self-healing fabric can be stretched twice its size only five minutes after a previously inflicted cut has completely healed.
Chao Wang, the co-author of the study, said that developing such a material has been a challenge for the scientific community for many years. Now that they managed to bring fantasy to life, the researchers are looking for future applications. The most obvious one is to use the material on new robots in order to give the machines the ability to self-heal after mechanical failures.
However, Chao Wang also says that the material can be used to extend the life of electric cars, lithium-ion, and electronic devices, as well. Other more environment-oriented areas involve using the self-healing material to improve biosensors used in environmental monitoring. Ultimately, the scientists predict that the material will have a great influence on medical science to come, as well.
Image Source: Flickr