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Scientists create metal that repairs itself and create a revolution in the market!

Written by Valdemar Medeiros
Published 22/05/2024 às 09:52
Scientists create metal that repairs itself and generates a revolution in the market!
Photo: Post China/Reproduction

Scientists discover self-healing metal that could revolutionize the engineering sector. Understand how this spontaneously healing metal works.

US scientists make incredible discovery by observing, for the first time, a metal that regenerates. Metals can spontaneously heal microcracks that appeared in materials during testing. The discovery was made by a research team from Sandia National Laboratories and Texas A&M University.

Understand how regenerating metal can change the industry

Scientists were able to observe pieces of metal cracking and then melting back together. The phenomenon goes against a series of scientific theories created in recent years and could pave the way for a major revolution in the world of engineering.

Fatigue damage is a common cause of machine failure, which is why this type of discovery is so interesting. This damage manifests as microcracks that form due to repeated stress or movement.

Over time, these cracks expand and propagate until the device breaks. The fissure that the team of scientists saw disappear was one of these tiny fractures, measured in nanometers.

The research team at Sandia National Laboratories and Texas A&M University described their findings on the self-healing metal in the journal Nature. According to Brad Boyce, materials scientist at Sandia, it was absolutely impressive to watch firsthand.

What has been confirmed is that metals have their own intrinsic and natural ability to heal themselves, at least in the case of nanometer-scale fatigue damage. Fatigue damage is one of the main ways that machines wear out and eventually break.

From repeated tension or movement, microscopic cracks appear that grow over time, leading to device failure.

Scientists say regenerating metal is almost impossible in theory

The crack the researchers saw in the healing metal was one of those tiny fractures, measured in nanometers. According to scientists, everything from solder joints in our electronic devices to motors and bridges often fail unpredictably due to cyclic loading, which leads to crack initiation and eventual fracture. In theory, when this happens, humans should step in and make the replacement.

The economic impact of these failures is measured in hundreds of billions of dollars every year for governments around the world. Although scientists have already created some self-healing materials, particularly plastics, the notion of a self-regenerating metal has largely been the domain of science fiction.

For Boyce, cracks in metals were only expected to increase, not reduce. Even some of the basic equations that are used to describe crack growth exclude the possibility of such healing processes.

Metal that regenerates had already been theorized

In 2013, Michael Demkowicz, then an assistant professor in the department of materials science and engineering at the MIT, began to question conventional materials theory. He published a new theory, based on findings in computer simulations, that under certain conditions the metal should be able to weld cracks formed by wear.

His theory was discovered to be true inadvertently at the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, a Department of Energy facility jointly operated by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. According to Boyce, the metal that regenerates was certainly a big surprise.

Little is still known about the self-healing process, including whether it will become a practical tool in a manufacturing environment. According to scientists, the extent to which these findings are generalizable will likely become a subject of extensive research.

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Valdemar Medeiros

Journalist in training, specialist in creating content with a focus on SEO actions. Writes about the Automotive Industry, Renewable Energy and Science and Technology

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