Scientists from the University of California discuss how they plan on fixing broken devices with magnetic ink particles. “Just like the human skin is stretchable and self-healing, we wanted to impart a self-healing ability to printed electronics,” Amay Bandodkar, a member of the research team, tells The New York Times. The Verge reports: Sensors printed with this ink would magnetically attack to each other when a rip or tear occurs, automatically fixing a device at the first sign of disintegration. The published study focused on creating sensors that can be incorporated with fabrics. The result is smart clothing that can repair cuts up to three millimeters long in 50 milliseconds. In a sample video, a sensor used to light a small bulb gets snipped in half. In seconds, magnets in the sensor pull the two sides back together and slowly light the bulb again. To create the self-healing effect, the team used pulverized neodymium magnets typically found in refrigerators and hard drives and combined them into the ink. This helps the researchers avoid the traditional process of adding chemicals and heat, which could take hours to complete. Bandodkar estimates that $10 worth of ink can create “hundreds of small devices” that can help reduce waste, since you won’t need to throw these wearables and gadgets out when they’re broken. “Within a few seconds it’s going to self-heal, and you can use it over and over again.”
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