Using Liquid Metal In Creating Self-Healing Stretchable Wires

Using Liquid Metal In Creating Self-Healing Stretchable Wires

By Shinji Tutoru

NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTH CAROLINA, USA. The development of self-healing wires that are elastic. The polymer sheath and the liquid-metal core reconnect at the molecular level after they are disconnected, split or severed. The manufacturing of these conductive wires that are elastic and self-healing has great potentials in technologies that are exposed to high-stress environments. This can significantly reduce the replacement and recycling costs for plastics.

Dr. Michael Dickey and team created microfluid channels. These are tiny tunnels made in commercially available self-healing polymer with the use of a solid wire. Liquid-metal alloy of gallium and indium filled the microfluidic channels. Thus, resulting to a liquid-metal wire in an elastic sheath. Since the wire is liquid, it becomes stretchable together with the polymer sheath.

What prevents the liquid metal from leaking out of the sheath when the wires are severed is the skin that is formed when the liquid metal oxidizes. The sheath re-forms its molecular bonds and the liquid metal reconnects when the sliced edges of the wire are put back together.

The new process developed can be used in creating intricate three-dimensional structures with connecting microfluidic channels. It can be achieved by cutting the polymer sheath into various sections. Then they will be reconnected at varying angles making sure that the channels are still aligned. The new technique can also result to the creation of more complex circuits and the rewiring of existing circuits with the use of scissors.

Invention Self-healing Wire
Organization North Carolina State University, North Carolina, USA
Researcher Dr. Michael Dickey and Team
Field(s) Advanced Materials, Elastic Materials, Materials Science, Stretchable Wires, Stretchable Electronics, Self-healing Polymer, Self-healing Wire
Further Information NC State University

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