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Self-fixing composites 'step closer'

MATERIALS Cutting Edge

BOFFINS at the University of Bristol have helped develop a mater ial that can heal itself when it cracks.

Researchers claimed the move will bring the development of self-healing composite structures closer.

Scientists at Bristol University's Department of Aerospace Engineering and the European Space Technology Research Centre in The Netherlands have designed a glass material filled with glue that could repair wear and tear on spacecraft. But the technology could be transferred to construction materials, helping them resist cracking under strain. Research leader Dr Christopher Semprimoschnig replaced fibres running through a resinous composite with hollow glass fibres 30 micrometers in diameter.

These tiny glass tubes contain adhesives that fix the composite when damaged. Dr Semprimoschnig said: 'When damage occurs the fibres must break easily otherwise they cannot release the liquid to fill the gaps and perform the repair.' But Dr Semprimoschnig added that applied production of the material was still some way away.