IMAGINE a mobile phone which falls, its screen cracks and then heals by itself. This may well be possible in the future as scientists from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata and IIT Kharagpur, have invented a new self-healing material which can repair itself in the blink of an eye. The development which could have many applications including in self-healing electronic gadgets and in the optical industry has been published in the prestigious US-based Science (AAAS) journal.
The researchers say while self-healing materials have been developed earlier and are used in aerospace, engineering and automation, the difference is that they have now synthesised a new class of solid material which they claim is 10-times harder than other competing material. Earlier materials developed were in contrast soft and amorphous (without a clearly defined shape) in nature and needed light, heat or a chemical to help them repair by themselves. However, the new material is hard and does the repair by itself using its own electric charges. “During repair, fractured pieces travel with honeybee wing-like motion with acceleration comparable to diesel cars,” one of the researchers Prof. Bhanu Bhusan Khatua of IIT Kharagpur explained Monday. Prof. C Malla Reddy, who won the prestigious Swarnajayanti fellowship from the Indian Governments Department of Science and Technology, in 2015, and his team at IISER Kolkata synthesized the new class of solid materials.