Polymeric Self-healing Composites for Longer Lasting Products
This proven, patent-pending material that enables a wide variety of composite products to "self-heal" is available for licensing by or joint development with commercial companies, universities, or government laboratories. Structural polymers are susceptible to cracks that form deep within the structure where detection is difficult, and repair is often impossible. Once these cracks have formed, the product's structural integrity is significantly diminished. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed self-healing composite materials to address this microcracking problem. In these materials, the resin matrix typically used in making composite products is infused with monomer-containing microcapsules and a corresponding polymerization catalyst. When a crack forms in the composite, the microcapsules rupture, releasing the monomer. As the monomer contacts the catalyst, polymerization occurs and the crack is "self-healed," requiring no manual intervention. Once healed, the polymer recovers as much as 90% of its original fracture toughness.