Self-Healing Metal Sparks Fears Of Unkillable Robots

Recently, scientists have claimed to see metal repairing itself (but not for the first time) without human involvement.

A recent research from the United States challenges what we believed we knew regarding metals by showing that, given the right circumstances, fractures caused by wear and strain may heal themselves.

With breakthrough ideas, self-healing metals may completely alter the engineering industry, opening the door to self-repairing aircraft, cars, and even robots.

According to a report, Sandia National Laboratories scientist Brad Boyce, who co-led the research with Texas A&M University, said it was incredible to see with one’s own eyes.  In the instance of nanoscale fatigue damage, the findings demonstrate that metals have a natural, innate capacity to repair themselves.

Metals utilized in today’s crucial infrastructure, including bridges and vehicles, are under a great deal of strain, eventually leading to the formation of tiny fractures.  Machines often crack due to fatigue damage, but Mr. Boyce and his colleagues saw a nano-sized fracture reduced by 18 nm.

The researchers had set out to study the propagation of fractures through a platinum slab 40 nm thick when pressure was applied. Therefore, this finding came as quite a surprise.  Forty minutes into the experiment, the damage reversed as a ‘t-junction’ fracture bonded back together as if it had never been there. The fracture then regrew in a new direction while the scientists stared in awe from behind microscopes.

According to a report from 2013, Guoqiang Xu, a graduate student, and Michael Demkowicz, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, were shocked when they first saw self-healing metal.

Tension, or the application of a force, would typically draw broken metal apart, but it was discovered to have the opposite effect under specific circumstances, causing the fracture to close and the edges to bond together. They believed this discovery might pave the way for self-healing materials that mend themselves at the first sign of injury.

The solution was found in nickel’s crystalline microstructure, a metal utilized to create superalloys for usage in high-pressure conditions like those found in deep-sea oil wells. Demkowicz claims they uncovered a process that can, in theory, close fractures under any applied force by constructing a computer model of nickel’s microstructure and researching its reaction to different situations.