Indian scientists develop material that repair itself on mechanical impact

Published on Jul 24, 2021 07:41 PM IST

Due to the unique property of piezoelectric molecular crystals, the broken pieces of the component acquire electrical charges at the crack junction and the damaged parts attract each other for precise autonomous repair.

Scientists have developed piezoelectric molecular crystals that generate electricity under mechanical impact.(DST)
Scientists have developed piezoelectric molecular crystals that generate electricity under mechanical impact.(DST)
By | Edited by Kunal Gaurav, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Scientists in India have developed material that may soon make it possible for damaged electronic components to repair themselves. The department of science and technology on Saturday said that researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata collaborated with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, to develop piezoelectric molecular crystals that repair themselves with the electrical charges generated by the mechanical impact on them.

Daily use devices often break down due to mechanical damage, which decreases the life of the equipment and increases maintenance costs. In autonomous spacecraft, human intervention for the repair and restoration of an electronic component damaged by a mechanical impact is not possible. In such cases, minimal damage could leave costly equipment useless.

Keeping such necessities in mind, scientists have developed piezoelectric molecular crystals that generate electricity under mechanical impact.

“The piezoelectric molecules developed by the scientists called bipyrazole organic crystals recombine following mechanical fracture without any external intervention, autonomously self-healing in milliseconds with crystallographic precision,” the department said.

Due to this unique property, the broken pieces of the component acquire electrical charges at the crack junction and the damaged parts attract each other for precise autonomous repair. The methodology for self-repair was initially developed by the IISER Kolkata team led by professor C Malla Reddy and professor Nirmalya Ghosh.

The duo used a custom-designed state-of-the-art polarization microscopic system to probe and quantify the perfection of the piezoelectric organic crystals, said the DST. Professor Bhanu Bhusan Khatua and Dr Sumanta Karan of IIT Kharagpur separately studied the performance of the new materials for fabricating mechanical energy harvesting devices.

“The material may find application in high-end micro-chips, high precision mechanical sensors, actuators, micro-robotics, and so on. Further research into such materials may eventually lead to the development of smart gadgets that self-repair cracks or scratches,” the department added.

The study was published in the journal Science earlier this month.

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