Devices that we use daily often break down due to mechanical damage, forcing us either to repair or replace them. This decreases the life of the equipment and increases maintenance costs. In many cases, like in space crafts human intervention for restoration is not possible.
But, New materials may soon make it possible for damaged electronic components to mend themselves. yes, its true. Indian scientists recently developed a material that can repair their own mechanical damages with the electrical charges generated by the mechanical impact on them. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, teaming up with IIT Kharagpur, have developed piezoelectric molecular crystals that repair themselves from mechanical damages without need for any external intervention. Piezoelectric crystals are a class of materials that generate electricity when it undergoes a mechanical impact. This methodology was initially developed by the IISER Kolkata team led by Prof. C Malla Reddy, a recipient of Swarnajayanti fellowship (2015) given by the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India.
The IIT Kharagpur’s team, Prof. Bhanu Bhusan Khatua and Dr. Sumanta Karan studied the performance of these materials for fabricating mechanical energy harvesting devices. One more scientist from IISER Kolkata, Prof. Nirmalya Ghosh who is a laureate of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) G.G. Stokes Award in Optical polarization 2021, with his team used a custom-designed state-of-the-art polarization microscopic system to probe and quantify the perfection of the piezoelectric organic crystals.
With the support of Government, Our scientists are setting new milestones in the field of invention and discovery. The material may find application in high-end micro-chips, high precision mechanical sensors, actuators, micro-robotics, and so on. It is a big discovery for medical equipments like pacemakers. Further research into such materials may eventually lead to the development of smart gadgets that self-repair cracks or scratches.