Smart clothing seems like a great concept but the feasibility of wearing around delicate “printed” electronics has been a major issues since the idea’s inception.
Essentially, the tiniest tear in smart clothing can render it useless so engineers from the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego set out to solve this issue.
The team of engineers have created a self-healing magnetic ink capable of repairing multiple cuts in as quickly as 50 milliseconds.
By continuing to develop the magnetic ink technology, the researchers hope it could eventually be used for batteries or electrochemical sensors, or even self-healing devices such as wearable electronic circuits that fix themselves.
In order to create the magnetic ink, the engineers crushed up copious amounts of neodymium permanent magnets into microscopic particles.
From there, the miniature magnets were inserted into ink to make printed electronics, along with carbon powder to help increase conductivity.
The ink is then exposed to a magnetic field, which aligns the particles, ultimately allowing the magnetic ink to heal a cut since the two sides are attracted to each other.
At the moment the UC San Diego team says the technology is capable of repairing tears as wide as 3 mm, “a record in the field of self-healing systems.”