University of California, Riverside (UCR) researchers say they have developed an ionic conductor that is transparent, mechanically stretchable, and self-healing.
UCR professor Chao Wang, recipient in 2007 of the ACM-IEEE George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowship, says his lifelong love of Wolverine, the self-healing comic book character, sparked his interest in developing self-healing materials.
His approach makes use of a mechanism called ion-dipole interactions, which are forces between charged ions and polar molecules that are highly stable under electrochemical conditions. Wang combined a polar, stretchable polymer with a mobile, high-ionic-strength salt to create the material that offers these properties.
After being cut, the low-cost, easy-to-produce, soft, rubbery material can completely re-attach, or heal, in 24 hours at room temperature. Wang says it also can stretch 50 times its original length. The material can be electrically activated to power artificial muscles and could be used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots.
"Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years," Wang says. "We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications."
From UCR Today
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