New materials may soon make it possible for damaged electronic components, such as in space crafts, to mend themselves. The materials recently developed by scientists can repair their own mechanical damages with the electrical charges generated by the mechanical impact on them.
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, teaming up with IIT Kharagpur, have developed piezoelectric molecular crystals that repair themselves from mechanical damages without need for any external intervention. Piezoelectric crystals are a class of materials that generate electricity when it undergoes a mechanical impact.
The piezoelectric molecules developed by the scientists called bipyrazole organic crystals recombine following mechanical fracture without any external intervention, autonomously self-healing in milliseconds with crystallographic precision.
In these molecular solids, due to the unique property of generating electrical charges on mechanical impact, the broken pieces acquire electrical charges at the crack junction, leading to attraction by damaged parts and precise autonomous repair. This research was supported by the Department of Science and Technology, GoI via Swarnajayanti Fellowship.
The material may find application in high-end micro-chips, high precision mechanical sensors, actuators, micro-robotics, and so on. Further research into such materials may eventually lead to the development of smart gadgets that self-repair cracks or scratches.