Electronic Product Design

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 00:00 Written by

Self Repairing Electronics

19-04-16 nano technology robots 200When we talk about nanoparticles, the mind can easily drift into semi-plausible fantastical ideas of super self repairing medicinal anitbodies, surfing through our bodies to fight the good fight against the evil, poisonous bad guys. Nanomedicines, injected by nano-needles combat rare and exotic illnesses from the future, sent to destroy specific types of cells, but our bodies fight back and repair themselves.

And we don’t even notice these worlds colliding as the scale is so...nanoscopic.

Just as massive advances are consistently achieved in medicines, nano-scale electronics are also on the rise, also with an eye on the supreme prize of self-repairing electronics. They could be edging ever closer.


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.

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