New soft-matter self-healing material can repair its circuit

Researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in the US have created a soft-matter composite self-healing material that spontaneously heals itself under extreme mechanical damage.

The material is composed of liquid metal droplets suspended in a soft elastomer. Unlike many other self-healing materials we reported on, the soft-matter material does not visibly repairs cracks and tears in the material, but rather reroutes its circuit. When damaged, the droplets rupture to from new connections with neighbouring droplets, rerouting the electrical signals without interruption. The circuit remains fully and continuously operational when severed, punctured, or have material removed.

In other research, elastic and deformable materials have been developed for soft electronics, but these are sill vulnerable to mechanical damage that causes immediate electrical failure.

Applications for the material include bio-inspired robotics, human-machine interaction, and wearable computing. The material exhibits high electrical conductivity that does not change when stretched, which makes it also ideal for use in power and data transmission.

Photos: Carnegie Mellon Univeristy