Damage-sensing, self-healing materials

The damage-sensing, self-healing material developed at Arizona State University consists of shape-memory polymers embedded with a fiber-optic network. This network is able to detect damage to the material, then apply thermal stimulus by way of an infrared laser to the damaged area to heat the specific damaged region. This heat in turn stimulates toughening and healing mechanisms that have been integrated into the material. Once the material is damaged, the self-healing process can recover up to 96% of the material’s original strength.

Key Differentiators

The ability to both detect and heal itself locally is unprecedented in self-healing materials. Additionally, this material can carry out the self-repair process while still in use. Autonomous, self-healing materials could greatly reduce the need for constant replacement or costly repair of damaged or deteriorating structures and materials, reducing resource usage.

Biomimicry Story

Bone has the ability to detect damage, halt its propagation, and repair the damage to within range of its original strength. Except in the case of the most severe fractures, bone is capable of initiating and completing this process while the organism retains at least some level of functional mobility.Read more about the ASU researchers' work here.

Challenges Solved

Damage to structures or materials leading to eventual failure or reductions in durability and strength.