Sunday, November 29, 2009

Volkswagen Funds Development of Self-Healing Coatings Using Nanocapsules



Boeing
Boeing The nano-capsules in the electroplated layer contain a fluid. If the layer is scratched, the layers burst, the fluid escapes and repairs the scratch.
Credit: © Fraunhofer IPA  
German scientists hope to duplicate the human skin  phenomenon of self-healing . Small scratches and cuts heal quickly, leaving no trace of a scar after only a few days. Engineers have now developed nano-capsules for electroplated layers - an innovation which has brought engineers one step closer to imitating the self-healing powers of the skin.I In a project funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, researchers from the Fraunhofer IPA in Stuttgart and the Duisburg-Essen University have developed a process for producing electroplated layers with nano-capsules. Researchers began by evenly distributing the fluid-filled capsules into an electroplated layer - like raisins in a cake. When the layer was damaged, the pellets would burst and release a fluid that 'repaired' the scratch. "The challenge lies in not damaging the capsules when producing the electroplated layer," says Dr. Martin Metzner, the department head at IPA.  The smaller the capsules are the thinner and more sensitive their casing. The new self-healing surfaces are ideal for mechanical bearings, for example. When the bearing runs dry, the capsules in the top layer of the bearing’s coating burst and release new lubricant. Currently the surface coverage does not extend beyond the centimetre scale, but experts estimate that a process for coating entire components will be developed within two years. In a further step, the team worked on more complex systems involving capsules filled with different fluids which can react with one another like a two-component adhesive. More information: www.ipa.fraunhofer.de

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