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Dec 19, 2011Science and Technology
Creating a circuit that repairs itself

When one tiny circuit within an integrated chip cracks or fails, the whole chip – or even the whole device – is often lost. But what if the circuit could fix itself, and fix itself so fast that the user never even knows there is a problem? Engineers have developed a self-healing system that restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit in less time than it takes to blink. Researchers dispersed tiny microcapsules of liquid metal on top of a gold line functioning as a circuit. When the gold is cracked, the microcapsules break open, releasing the liquid metal. It fills in the gap in the circuit, restoring electrical flow. Only the microcapsules at the site of the crack are opened, so repair takes place precisely where it is needed. Also, the repair requires no human intervention, a boon for applications where accessing a break for repair is impossible, such as a battery, or complex systems like air- or spacecraft where finding the source of a failure is difficult.

 
 
Relevant Locations: 1584, Switzerland
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