The American Chemical Society has developed self-propelled nanomotors designed to seek out and repair minute scratches and blemishes in electronic systems, usually imperceptible to the human eye.
The nanomotors, comprised of gold and platinum and powered by hydrogen peroxide, can move over the surface of a damaged electronic circuit while connected to an LED. Once the scratch is located, the nanomotors become lodged in the damaged area, closing any gaps and potentially fixing any issues. As the nanometer materials are conductive, when they break down and fill the void, they should restore conductivity to a disrupted circuit.
Immediate uses will be for materials and circuits traditionally difficult to repair. Researcher Jinxing Li, who worked on the nanomotor project believes the nanomotors would make an ideal repair component for the conductive layer of a solar cell, for flexible sensors and batteries, or any other conductive material in a high stress environment.
The research team are not limiting their innovative discovery to electronics, either. Following the suit of last year's University of Alicante creation of a flexible polymeric material, also capable of self-repair, the American Chemical Society team is exploring how to develop the nanomotors for medical applications in the hope they’ll eventually be deployed to treat a wide range of different diseases.
The future doesn’t appear to be that far off, after all.
Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / freedigitalphotos.net.