Scientific research into self-healing materials has taken off significantly worldwide in recent years. The Delft Centre for Materials of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has therefore taken the initiative to mount the first conference on the topic. From Wednesday 18 April to Friday 20 April, 180 leading scientists, including all the new disciplines renowned pioneers, will gather in the Palace Hotel in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to present their findings during the First International Conference on Self-Healing Materials.
Scientific research into self-healing materials, and their production, is exceptionally varied and versatile, covering all major materials classes: from metals and concrete to polymers and ceramics. Natural materials possess the property of self-healing, but for man-made technical materials this is an entirely new asset.
The first prototypes of self-healing materials already exist: Prof. Scott White of the University of Illinois is focusing on a specific class of relatively brittle plastics. He has embedded microcapsules in the plastic which contain a healing substance. If a crack develops in the material, the microcapsules will break, and this substance (a stable monomer) is then released into the material. When the monomers come into contact with a catalyst, which is present in the entire material, they form polymers which (partially) repair the crack. Prof. White is one of the 12 keynote speakers at the conference in Noordwijk (for the complete programme see: http://www.selfhealingmaterials.nl).
A similar approach to Prof. Whites is possible with concrete, which can be packed with small globules of dry cement. Should a crack appear in the concrete, the globule opens and reacts with water from its environment, so that the crack is nipped in the bud.
TU Delft has devoted considerable attention to the topic of self-healing materials for some years now
Contact: Ineke Boneschansker
Delft University of Technology