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Self-repairing circuits use liquid metal capsules to restore conductivity

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Circuit Board (Verge Stock)
Circuit Board (Verge Stock)

University of Illinois engineers have found a way to automatically repair broken circuitry by placing micro-capsules filled with liquid metal on a circuit board — when a board fissures, the capsules break and release the liquid into the damaged area, in most cases restoring 99-percent of conductivity. For the user, the repair is seamless: it's automatic, local to the source of the damage, and restores the circuit after a few microseconds.Previous efforts to make self-repairing circuit boards were highly complicated and focused on structural repair, while this new method concentrates solely on restoring conductivity to the circuit.

Researchers say it's an excellent solution for situations where circuit repair is difficult, like in an aircraft where there are "miles and miles of conductive wire" — we can also see the benefit in consumer electronics, but there's no indication of when or if the tech will make it that far. The plan right now is to further refine the system and look at other possibilities: the engineers are particularly interested in improving the safety and lifespan of batteries.