Printable Electronics That Self Heal Before Your Eyes

While printed electronics conjure up notions of being able to manufacture electronic devices far more simply and cheaply than traditional electronics, the reality is that the resulting devices are so delicate that they are prone to an early demise that all but snuffs out any savings that might have been gained.

Now, researchers at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) have developed a new type of magnetic ink that produces electronic devices with self-healing capabilities. The UCSD researchers believe that this self-healing quality will make printed electronics far more robust, and therefore more viable for a number of new applications.

“Our work holds considerable promise for widespread practical applications for long-lasting printed electronic devices,” said Joseph Wang, director of the Center for Wearable Sensors and chair of the nanoengineering department at UC San Diego, in a press release.

In research described in the journal Science Advances, the researcher created microparticles that orient themselves in a particular way when in the presence of a magnetic field. Unlike other self-healing materials, this one does not require an external force to trigger the self-healing process.

The material is capable of repairing tears as wide as three millimeters, which is a record in the annals of self-healing materials.

And it patches itself up rather quickly. The self-healing material can fix tears in 50 milliseconds; other self-healing materials can take minutes (and sometimes days) to repair themselves.

To test out its healing properties,…[Read more]