Special material will allow plane wings to restore the arising defects during the flight

ScienceJuly 3, 2015

The tiny microcracks which arise in the material of planes wings, wind generator turbine blades and other mechanisms which are exposed to high mechanical loadings can become a source of big problems if they remain unnoticed and the necessary measures will not be taken in time. But such problems can shortly fade themselves thanks to the efforts of the group of researchers from the university of Bristol who developed substance microcapsules that can be included into the material of plane wings that will allow material to repair microcracks independently right after their emergence.

The technology works this way – tiny spheres with a special liquid structure take the root as the material or their layer and put constructional material from a reverse side. When the crack appears in the material, it breaks the integrity of microcapsules liquid covers (substance on the basis of carbonaceous connections) and fills the arisen microcrack. The air, atmospheric moisture, metal and chemical catalysts included into separate compartments of a microcapsule lead to polymerization of a liquid material which quickly hardens, becomes rather strong and connects to a microcrack from within, without allowing it to grow further.

It should be noted that this technology of “self-curing” of metal designs is related to the technologies of concrete cracks self-restoration. However, neither technology can restore strong damages and long cracks, their task is preventing the destruction of designs at the most initial stage of this process, at the stage of material microcracks emergence.

“In addition to aviation industry, absolutely other areas can benefit from our invention” – tells Duncan Wass, the leading researcher, – “Self-healing function of a carbon material can help in keeping integrity of a sports equipment, designs of bicycles, bodies of cars, etc”.

In other words, the similar technology can be used even for the creation of “non killed” smartphone screens and self-repairing nail varnish. But this will become possible when the cost of microcapsules production falls below a certain level based on economic feasibility of technology application. “And at a present stage, self-repairing nail varnish emergence is necessary to expect not soon enough. So far, this technology can be used only where people can depend on it” – Duncan Uoss says.

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