A team of scientists from the University of Bristol have been successful in developing aircraft wings that can self repair thus paving the way for self-healing technology. The study is funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s UK Catalysis Hub.
The technology in development for three years is capable of producing self healing nail polish and a cure for cracked mobile phone screens. The team has specialised in modifying carbon fibre composite materials which is widely used to manufacture commercial aircraft wings, sports racquets and high performance bicycles. The technique involves adding tiny, hollow microspheres to the carbon material which are so small that they look like a powder to the human eye. These microspheres break upon impact and release a liquid healing agent which seeps into the cracks left by the damage before coming into contact with a catalyst. It results in a rapid chemical reaction which fills the crack causing it to harden like before.
Scientists claim they took inspiration for this project from the human body which scabs and heals whenever damaged. The development has raised hopes of a mid flight repair in case of a bird strike. Similarly, the safety checks will become cheaper as the dye would do the job of detecting even the minutest of cracks which are not visible to the naked eye. The technology if successful in proving its worth would then be used to equip mobile phone screens in the next five or ten years.