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by Paula Gould Image above is an optical micrograph of a self-healing
 

Summary: by Paula Gould
Image above is an optical micrograph of a self-healing
polymer. Microcapsules containing a red healing agent
are beginning to rupture as a crack progresses through
the material. (Courtesy of Eric Brown, University of
Illinois.)
The notion of structures that mend themselves
sounds more like an idea from science fiction than a
topic for scientific investigation. Not so, say the
researchers who are drawing inspiration from
biological healing processes to create new composites
with a built-in tool kit. This approach to materials
maintenance is attracting considerable interest from
the aerospace industry, given the potential value for
self-repairing airplanes and spacecraft. But first, the
self-help concept needs to be proven outside of the
laboratory in tests that mimic likely wear and tear
scenarios in the real world.
It is relatively easy to illustrate the concept of a self-
repairing system using familiar examples. Remember

  

Source: Aksay, Ilhan A. - Department of Chemical Engineering, Princeton University

 

Collections: Materials Science