Dec. 22, 2011 at 3:36 PM ET
Gadgets are great. We're enticed to buy new ones every few years. Sometimes that's because the new features are too awesome to resist, but other times we're simply buying replacements. As cool as gadgets are, they are prone to break and hard, if not impossible, to repair.
That frustration of throwing away perfectly good technology just because it doesn't work may be history, thanks to a "self-healing" electronics developed by engineers at the University of Illinois.
This system restores electrical conductivity to a cracked circuit in less time than it takes to blink, the university reports. It does this with tiny microcapsules on top of a gold line functioning as a circuit in a chip.
"As a crack propagates, the microcapsules break open and release the liquid metal contained inside. The liquid metal fills the gap in the circuit, restoring electrical flow," reads a new release on the technology.
While this technology could find a home in gadgets, the reality is you'll still want to replace them every few years to take advantage of technological leaps. But for other uses, such a ship en route to Mars, self-healing electronics could be a life saver.
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