Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Self-Heal Plastic

PostedApril 12, 2009

Download File (mp3)



Randy Atkins: Cracks in adhesives, coatings, and paint are especially common.  Such breaks may not be easy to detect or reach…

Nancy Sottos: But if you could repair them when they are small, you could prevent a lot of more catastrophic failures.

Randy Atkins: Nancy Sottos, a University of Illinois engineer, is leading a team developing plastics that automatically heal damage.

Nancy Sottos: Just like in a biological system, we need to bring the reactive materials that are essentially going to clot or fill the crack.

Randy Atkins: So they’ve engineered in an array tiny tubes filled with a liquid that moves up into cracked areas by capillary effect forces, and solidifies upon contact with chemicals in the plastic’s surface layer.  The repair process can be repeated multiple times.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.

Resources




Self-healing materials: background, significance, and photos
More on autonomic healing research
Sottos describes her work