A Wolverine Inspired Material

Scientists, including several from the University of California, Riverside, have developed a transparent, self-healing, highly stretchable conductive material that can be electrically activated to power artificial muscles and could be used to improve batteries, electronic devices, and robots.

The findings represent the first time scientists have created an ionic conductor, meaning materials that ions can flow through, that is transparent, mechanically stretchable, and self-healing.

The material has potential applications in a wide range of fields. It could give robots the ability to self-heal after mechanical failure; extend the lifetime of lithium ion batteries used in electronics and electric cars; and improve biosensors used in the medical field and environmental monitoring.

Inspired by wound healing in nature, self-healing materials repair damage caused by wear and extend the lifetime, and lower the cost, of materials and devices. Chao Wang, an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry, developed an interest in self-healing materials because of his lifelong love of Wolverine, the comic book character who has the ability to self-heal.

The low-cost, easy to produce soft rubber-like material can stretch 50 times its original length. After being cut, it can completely re-attach, or heal, in 24 hours at room temperature. In fact, after only five minutes of healing the material can be stretched two times its original length.

Image showing self-healing material structure and cut and healed portion.

Self-healing material (Source: UCR Today)

>> Read more by Sean Nealon, UCR Today, December 23, 2016