Flexible electronics is one of the continually growing niches of electronics. However, a long-term focus on silicon-based electronics has left aside other materials unadorned that can be otherwise used for the novel flexible electronics.
Recently, a big research event has been planned that focused on developing electrically conductive, self-repairing materials that possess the ability to withstand the harms triggered by the deformation and twisting of the materials. But till date, most of the research events have focused only on electrical conductors that possess self-healing feature.
Now scientists and researchers at the Penn State University have considered at advancing a self-repairing dielectric material. It is because dielectric materials are equally important as the conductors as they also offer to package and electronic insulation.
“Most of the researches planned for self-repairing electronic resources have focused just on electrical conductivity and dielectrics have always been avoided,” says Qing Wang, a professor at the Penn State. “It is right that we require conductive elements in all types of circuits, but the fact cannot be ignored that we also require protection and insulation for microelectronics.”
In the latterly organized research, the team of Penn State introduced a polymer nano composite that is reinforced with functionalized and efficient boron nitride nanosheets. It resulted in a material that despite recurring torsion and flexion is able enough of bringing back all its electrical and structural properties including breakdown strength, the mechanical power to safeguard against electrical resistivity, surges, insulation and thermal conductivity.
Eventually, the self-repairing works wherein the nanosheets of boron nitride link with each other through hydrogen based bonding groups that have been channelized onto the surfaces. This leads to the result in which when two elements of the composite are in near closeness then they are bond together strongly through natural electrostatic forces. When the restoration of the hydrogen bond occurs then, the material has already healed itself.
The proportion of boron nitride nanosheets utilized in the composite illustrates the overall amount of additional heat or pressure that is required to trigger the self-repairing process. It implies that with few fractions of boron nitride, it is feasible for the resources to repair itself at normal temperature levels just by placing the broken pieces next to each other. No additional activities or resources are required and also the result is a precise proportion of the material with no changes in its features or characteristics.
“We intended to find out an electronic material or resource that can repair itself without causing any changes in its properties and functionality, and do so even we repeat the process of breaking it multiple times, and now we can say that we have succeeded in it,” says Wang.
Conclusion – It is the first time that a self-repairing material has been developed that can regain all its properties or characteristics even after multiple breaks. It is a great achievement and now awaited is the usage of this material across numerous applications that involve intense twisting and deformation work. Presently, the team of Wang is carrying research on integrating this resource into functional devices like transistors and sensors to further validate its utility.
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