Self-healing surfaces

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Researchers are developing a new nanotech process to create a self-healing material that repairs itself if damaged The scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute and Duisburg-Essen University peppered a layer of electroplating with fluid-filled nanocapsules. If the electroplating is scratched, the nanocapsules burst open to fill the damage. From Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft:
Mechanical bearings are one example of possible applications – the materials of the bearings usually have a electroplated coating, in which the capsules can be embedded. If there is a temporary shortage of lubricant, part of the bearing's coating is lost, the capsules at the top of the layer burst and release lubricant. The bearing is not therefore damaged if it temporarily runs dry. The researchers have produced the first copper, nickel and zinc coatings with the new capsules, although surface coverage does not extend beyond the centimeter scale. Experts estimate that it will be another one and a half to two years before whole components can be coated. In a further step the team worked on more complex systems – involving differently filled capsules, for example, whose fluids react with one another like a two component adhesive.
"Self-healing surfaces"


  1. I want this technology to be used to create the ultimate long lasting nail varnish!

    Zing for the win.


  2. I’ve been hearing about this stuff for at least a few years. What’s different about this than other tech that’s claimed the same thing?

    Actually, what I’m most interested in is how many times it can fail and repair itself. There’s gotta be some upper limit. Once enough of the little capsules crack, you’re outta luck.

    This stuff is always presented as a panacea that will do away with holes in things forever, but it just can’t be the case. The stuff will make things last longer, but not indefinitely. So you’ll still need to inspect it for wear, etc.

    Basically, if it lasts 2x as long for less than 2x the cost, I’m interested. Otherwise, I have no direct use for it. I suppose it’s also worthwhile in places were you want to increase the longevity no matter what (space travel, components that are difficult to change) to reduce down time (or explosive decompression).

  3. I’ll be impressed when science can not only create self-healing materials, but in such a way that they are grown from a single molecule that encodes an entire self-building machine, of a vast variety of types depending on what is encoded therein.

  4. I love how writers take such simplistic things like this and turn them into magical creations. It’s technically not self healing. If you cut it, it does not repair itself. Yes, it is certainly better than surface coatings we have now, but it does not allow the material being protected to regenerate if damaged.

    I’ll be impressed when we actually have nanites (sp?) doing this type of work. Ones that can actually create/repair the base material. It probably won’t be in my life time, but one could hope.

  5. I’ll be impressed when the self-healing uses the surrounding air as raw material to rebuild with.

  6. “Once enough of the little capsules crack, you’re outta luck.”

    If the material has to resist lots of scratches in lots of different directions that could take a long time.

    I use ‘self healing’ cutting mats. They last several months or a year.

  7. So that’s how the not-a-car in From a Buick 8 heals itself when scratched or dented.

    Will things using this technology also open portals to other worlds?

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