Materials

Circuit, heal thyself

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
481,
Page:
412
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/481412c
Published online

WILEY

A crack in an electrical circuit no longer needs to be permanent, thanks to the development of circuits that can 'heal' themselves. The incorporation of tiny capsules of liquid metal allows electrical circuits to recover almost all of their function after being broken.

Nancy Sottos, Scott White and their colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created capsules of gallium and indium (pictured) and placed them either directly onto gold circuits or into an insulating layer above the wires. If a crack breaks the circuit and ruptures the capsules, the liquid metal is released, filling in the crack.

After damage, the researchers' circuit recovered 99% of its conductance in less than 1 millisecond. However, the team's method may not be immediately applicable because the demonstration circuit is significantly larger than most current micro-electronics.

Adv. Mater. 24, 398401 (2012)

Additional data