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FEATURE ARTICLE

Self-healing Polymers and Composites

Capsules, circulatory systems and chemistry allow materials to fix themselves

Scott R. White, Benjamin J. Blaiszik, Sharlotte L. B. Kramer, Solar C. Olugebefola, Jeffrey S. Moore, Nancy R. Sottos

2011-09WhiteF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageSynthetic materials have been engineered to heal themselves when they crack or break. The authors discuss three main approaches. Some materials contain capsules of healing agents that are broken and released in the presence of damage, and the material contained fills in the cracks. Others have “vascular” systems of tiny tubes that span of the material. Finally there are “intrinsic” healing polymers, which have bonds or phases that are triggered to heal by the damage. The authors discuss the advantages of having a material heal itself only under external stimulus (such as heat or pressure) or automatically. They also look at the structural soundness of materials after they have self-healed.


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