Thursday, December 29, 2011

Self-Healing Circuits

Can you count how many cell phones you have owned on one hand? Either the screen freezes or the battery has problems staying charged. With frustration, you end up just buying a new one and throwing the old in a drawer to be fixed later. The drawer becomes full with a series of “could work again” phones. Then you toss them in the trash.
Now, what if the phone could fix itself? At the University of Illinois, scientists are creating self-healing electronic circuits. The research team developed a system of capsules, filled with liquid metal. These are placed along the circuit and when broken are released to restore connectivity to complete the circuit again. The research team ran test on their system and amazingly the system can repair circuits in a fraction of a second! Greater parts of circuits are returning nearly to 100% capacity. That means the device would be fixed without the owner even having acknowledgment that there was ever a problem. The system can repair circuits even when technicians could not find where the problem occurs. With cell phones repairing themselves it would decrease the percent of cell phones ending up as electronic waste. How exciting!

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