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Hardware Science

Liquid Metal Capsules Used To Make Self-Healing Electronics 135

MrSeb writes "A crack team of engineers at the University of Illinois has developed an electronic circuit that autonomously self-heals when its metal wires are broken. This self-healing system restores conductivity within 'mere microseconds,' which is apparently fast enough that operation can continue without interruption. The self-healing mechanism is delightfully simple: The engineers place a bunch of 10-micron (0.01mm) microcapsules along the length of a circuit. The microcapsules are full of liquid metal, a gallium-indium alloy, and if the circuit underneath cracks, so do the microcapsules (90% of the time, anyway — the tech isn't perfect yet!). The liquid metal oozes into the circuit board, restoring up to 99% conductivity, and everything continues as normal. This even works with multi-layer printed circuit boards (PCBs), such the motherboard in your computer, too. There's no word on whether this same technology could one day be used by Terminators to self-heal shotgun blasts to the face, but it certainly sounds quite similar. The immediate use-cases are in extreme environments (aerospace), and batteries (which can't be taken apart to fix), but long term we might one day buy motherboards with these self-healing microcapsules built in."
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Liquid Metal Capsules Used To Make Self-Healing Electronics

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  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @03:09PM (#38452352)

    And that's why this is probably useless for consumer grade electronics.

    I mean really - how often do you break TRACES in a motherboard or PCB in any home consumer product? I haven't ever seen a failure like that get out of QC. The things that kill consumer electronics are corrosion, solder point failure (usually from overpressured heatsinks or heat based warping, see RROD), bad/exploding capacitors, and the occasional power surge or ESD damage.

    MAYBE in aeronautics? Maybe maybe MAYBE in automobiles, if you have a PCB somewhere controlling a multifuel system. But for consumer grade home electronics? Not remotely necessary.

  • Re:Crack Team? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mister_playboy ( 1474163 ) on Wednesday December 21, 2011 @04:02PM (#38453030)

    Crack cocaine is also a very different drug from base cocaine.

    You must write minimum sentencing guidelines. :)

The goal of science is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice.