Self-Healing Circuits For Cellphones?

Capsules filled with carbon nanotubes may be able offer cellphone and laptop owners what they've never had - self-healing circuits. Dropped your device? University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have got your back.


(Polymer capsules filled with carbon nanotubes)

In the image shown above, the nanotube suspension inside the capsules is visible in the light microscope image (topmost); the bottom image shows the surface of the polymer capsules as seen by a scanning-electron microscope.

"We want to address common failures in cell phones and other portable electronics," says Paul Braun, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois who leads the research project with Jeffrey Moore, a professor of chemistry, materials science, and engineering. These failures may become an even bigger problem as flexible electronics, which are subject to much more mechanical stress, become widespread, says Braun.

To make their self-healing material, Braun and Moore encapsulated carbon nanotubes inside polymer spheres about 200 micrometers in diameter each. They selected carbon nanotubes because of their high electrical conductivity and because their elongated shape does a good job of lining up to bridge gaps.

The nanotubes were used in proof-of-concept studies that showed that the torn polymer capsules and released nanotubes were able to form a bridge that completed a circuit.

Self-healing devices and systems have long been a staple of science-fictional devices.

The results were published last week in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

Via Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/11/2009)

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