In today's feature-laden electronics devices, the failure of one little electronic component can scuttle the entire package. To make matters worse, if the damage happens to strike something like a multilayer integrated circuit, then you pretty much need to replace the whole computer chip. But what if the chip could repair itself like a certain vertically challenged Canadian mutant? That's exactly what researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign managed to do after placing self-healing
polymers on top of a gold circuit. Once a break occurred, microcapsules with liquid metal filled the crack and restored 99 percent of conductivity in mere microseconds. Self-healing electronics would especially be helpful on things like aircraft
, where miles of conductive wires can make finding a break difficult, researchers said. The research is just the latest in a field that also has seen self-healing sensors
and shape-memory polymers
, but sadly, there's still no word on using this stuff to self-heal a broken heart....