Self-healing materials Animation 1.
3D measurement of self-healing material from Tosoh Corporation measured by digital holographic microscopy. The surface has been scratched by a metallic tool.
are artificial or synthetically-created substances
which have the built-in ability to automatically repair damage to themselves without any external diagnosis of the problem or human intervention. Generally, materials will degrade over time due to fatigue
, environmental conditions, or damage incurred during operation. Cracks
and other types of damage on a microscopic level have been shown to change thermal
, and acoustical
properties of materials, and the propagation of cracks can lead to eventual failure
of the material. In general, cracks are hard to detect at an early stage, and manual intervention is required for periodic inspections and repairs. In contrast, self-healing materials counter degradation through the initiation of a repair mechanism which responds to the micro-damage. Some self-healing materials are classed as smart structures, and can adapt to various environmental conditions according to their sensing and actuation properties.
Although the most common types of self-healing materials are polymers
, self-healing covers all classes of materials, including metals
, and cementitious materials
. Healing mechanisms vary from an instrinsic repair of the material to the addition of a repair agent contained in a microscopic vessel. For a material to be strictly defined as autonomously self-healing, it is necessary that the healing process occurs without human intervention. Self-healing polymers may, however, activate in response to an external stimulus (light, temperature change, etc.) to initiate the healing process. Read more...