Researchers develop self-healing material for wearables

Researchers develop self-healing material for wearables
A research team from the NUS Institute for Health Innovation and Technology and NUS Materials Science and Engineering have developed a stretchable, self-healing material that can be used in light-emitting capacitor devices to allow for high visibility illumination at lower operating voltages, becoming resilient to damage due to its self-healing properties.

The breakthrough material, called the HELIOS (Healable, Low-field Illuminating Optoelectronic Stretchable) device can be used in a variety of applications including flexible digital screens that heal when they crack, or be used to create light-emitting robots for searching for survivors in emergency situations or for farming and space exploration tasks. 

The material is made up of a transparent, elastic rubber sheet made up of a blend of fluoroelastomer and surfactant. The material can store more electronic charges at lower voltages due to its high dielectric permittivity to allow for a higher brightness when used in a light-emitting capacitor. 

Devices with HELIOS enabled can turn on at voltages that are four times lower on average and achieve brighter illumination, with a test of the device achieving an illumination of 1460 cd/m2 at 2.5 V/µm, comparable to the brightness of mobile phone screens.

The device can also be powered wirelessly for portable applications and is resistant to tears and punctures with reversible bonds between the molecules of the material able to be broken and reformed to allow the material to self-heal under ambient environmental factors. 

Benjamin Tee, assistant professor, NUS Institute for Health Innovation and Technology said: “Light is an essential mode of communication between humans and machines. As humans become increasingly dependent on machines and robots, there is huge value in using HELIOS to create ‘invincible’ light-emitting devices or displays that are not only durable but also energy-efficient.

"This could generate long-term cost savings for manufacturers and consumers, reduce electronic waste and energy consumption, and in turn, enable advanced display technologies to become both wallet and environmentally friendly.” 

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