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Self Repairing Electronics-A New Era of Innovation!

Virginia Tech researchers had recently developed a new type of soft electronics material that are self-healing, reconfigurable as well as recyclable.

Self-Repairing Electronics TechnologyEncountering wear and tear in any physical body or material over time is a natural phenomenon where most living beings possess the unique ability to repair themselves.

But what would happen if the electronics around us also possess this self-repairing property?

Quoting another sci-fi reference of how movies have influenced the current digital age has been stressed million times if you have read my previous articles, Self-Repairing Electronics Technology first made its appearance a few decades ago in blockbuster series like Terminator where humanoid robots possessed self-repairing qualities to combat wear and tear.

Similar to that concept, a new field of nanotechnology emerged a few years ago that gave way to the study and research of self-healing materials that could be used to develop a new generation of electronics.

In the real world, the most common challenge that impacts the performance of any electronics device is the wear and tear that sharply shortens the effectiveness of these devices until they need to be replaced.

But what if you dropped your phone by accident only to see the cracked screen of your mobile phone healing itself overnight, or what if the satellites equipped with solar panels are made under Self Repairing Electronics Technology such that the damage caused by micro-meteorites is reduced significantly?

Influenced by the immeasurable scope of applications in this field, many researchers had been toiling day and night to successfully develop this new technology.

And the breakthrough happened last year when scientists finally announced the development of Self Repairing Electronics Technology where researchers of Virginia Tech announced progress in the development of soft electronics.

Virginia Tech researchers had recently developed a new type of soft electronics material that are self-healing, reconfigurable as well as recyclable.

However, before mentioning the further scope and advancements done in developing Self Repairing Electronics Technology over the past few years, firstly we must understand what Soft Electronics is all about and how is it relevant in the self-healing of electronics.

Dissecting Soft Electronics

Self-RepairingRigidity either in structure or in thoughts is often considered a barrier that could restrict the growth of people as well as materials.

Keeping this in mind, scientists from all around the world started working on more malleable electronics that could break the mold of rigid and inflexible electronics.

And this is where the world was introduced to flexible PCBs, you can get in-depth knowledge about these PCBs in my previous article, “Flexible PCBs- Shrinking Electronics Faster!”.

Summarizing soft electronics in a few words, these types of electronics represent a new type of self-healing liquid metal composite that could be used to make soft, recyclable, electronic circuits.

Contrary to their name, these new composites do not break easily even when punctured and also possessed the ability to stretch without losing their electrical conductivity.

Recent Developments in Self Repairing Electronics 

Self repairingReiterating the above-mentioned development in the Self Repairing Electronics Technology, the research led by Michael Bartlett from Virginia Tech in the US have exhibited the development of replacing conventional circuits with micron-sized, electrically-conducting liquid metal droplets that are dispersed in a soft, protective elastomer called styrene-isoprene-styrene (SIS), with polybutadiene (PBD) added as a plasticizer.

This showcases one of the recent attempts done in the development of Self-Repairing Electronics Technology and in soft electronics that could change the world as we know.

Going back to 2019, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Tokyo developed a new self-healing material that could automatically fuse to conduct electricity.

According to the research, the self-healing material was comprised of MWCNT-PBS (Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube – PolyBoroSiloxane) that kept the electronic circuit stay intact without using adhesive.

Citing another such example, a research team at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology scientists had developed an eco-friendly nanocrystal semiconductor capable of self-healing.

Their findings describe the process of how a group of materials called double perovskites displays self-healing properties after they are damaged by the radiation of an electron beam.

Scope & Future of Self Repairing Electronics Technology

Self-Repairing TechnologyGoing from flexible electronics to stretchable or elastic electronics, self-repairing Electronics holds a significant role in the next few years as not only the medical industry but the wearable devices market will advance like an arrow once the Self-Repairing Electronics Technology gets commercially launched at a mass scale.

As we mentioned the numerous qualities of soft electronics that are currently getting developed in different parts of the world, the research is just the beginnings of a new world of electronics and robotics where self-repairing skin-like material will dominate the market that will eventually impact the product lifecycle of many devices.

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Aishwarya Saxena

A book geek, with creative mind, an electronics degree, and zealous for writing.Creativity is the one thing in her opinion which drove her to enter into editing field. Allured towards south Indian cuisine and culture, love to discover new cultures and their customs. Relishes in discovering new music genres.

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