Latest in Science

Image credit:

Future wearables could use magnetic circuits to self-heal

The research could make smart clothing more feasible.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
November 3, 2016
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

Smart clothing might be huge, except for one problem: The printed "ink" electronics are delicate, so you can break them just by stretching the wrong way. However, researchers from the Jacobs School of Engineering have developed a self-healing magnetic ink that can repair multiple cuts in as little as 50 milliseconds. That could eventually yield batteries, electrochemical sensors and wearable electronic circuits that fix themselves autonomously, making the smart textile industry more feasible.

The concept is pretty simple. The team crushed up a bunch of neodymium permanent magnets, like the kind you find in electric motors and hard drives, into microscopic particles. It then inserted them into the ink used to make printed electronics, along with carbon powder to increase conductivity. The ink is then subjected to a magnetic field, aligning the particles so that when it's torn or cut, each side is magnetically attracted to the other, healing the breach.

The team says the system repairs tears as wide as 3 mm, "a record in the field of self-healing systems." As shown in the video above, it can also self-heal multiple cuts. They add that unlike other systems, the magnetic ink is long-lasting, fast, works without any user intervention and shrugs off humid or hot conditions.

There is one big issue -- the cut ink traces still function electronically after healing, but the ink is no longer bonded, which could cause intermittent problems under heavily loading. However, the group plans to develop new self-healing ink recipes and test them using computer simulations. "Our work holds considerable promise for widespread practical applications for long-lasting printed electronic devices," says lead author Joseph Wang.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

NVIDIA apologizes for RTX 3080 order chaos

NVIDIA apologizes for RTX 3080 order chaos

View
You’ll need more than $299 to truly enjoy next-gen gaming

You’ll need more than $299 to truly enjoy next-gen gaming

View
Apple iPad (2020) hands-on: A better kind of basic

Apple iPad (2020) hands-on: A better kind of basic

View
Facebook's Infinite Office is a virtual office space for the WFH crowd

Facebook's Infinite Office is a virtual office space for the WFH crowd

View
Confused about which console to buy? Just wait.

Confused about which console to buy? Just wait.

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr