Self-healing materials are man-made substances that have the ability to repair their damage without the need for human intervention. These materials often become parts of smart structure, that require limited maintenance when paired with structural health monitoring systems. Although the concept of self-healing materials go as far back as Roman times, the most common forms of self-healing materials are polymers or elastomers.
We’ve come a long way since lime mortar, as today’s self-healing materials are advanced creations utilizing physics and chemistry to retain their longevity. Some of the most well known self-healing materials have embedded healing agents that trigger whenever a chemical reaction occurs or some kind of physical force is exerted, such as a heat or cold wave or crack from vibrations or other elemental pressures.
There’s many practical uses for self-healing materials when it comes to structural engineering, many of them can be applied to build stronger bridges, skyscrapers, and other complex architectural achievements. There’s many uses for self-healing materials that go beyond structural engineering, but don’t underestimate its importance to improving structural safety as well as increasing what’s possible to achieve in the future as this technology advances.
Very recently, an article published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, claimed that researchers used a catalyst based on scandium, a rare metal, to create polymers composed of alternating sequences of ethylene and anisylpropylenes and shorter ethylene-ethylene segments by the copolymerization of ethylene and anisylpropylenes. These new polymers ranged from materials that have both elastic as well as liquid states, and also materials that can stretch and then retain their original hard shapes.
What this means is that the future of structural engineering is something to look forward to as the technology for self-healing materials gets more advanced and more widespread in the market. It may take some time to get there from where we are but we feel that this is something to definitely look forward to as the years progress.
So, now that we’ve spent some time introducing you to the concept of self-healing materials, I think you’ll find our ideas for how they can be applied to structural engineering to be very interesting. If you want to see what we do or if you have an idea you want to see come to life, then you should get in touch with our engineers and professionals by filling out our contact form.
As always, we’ll be looking forward to the future!