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Capsules holding carbon nanotubes can put the zazz back in broken circuits

Many people know the familiar wince when a cell phone or laptop hits the floor. But electronic devices of the future may self-repair tiny cracks or breaks in their circuitry with the help of nanotubes.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created capsules that hold conductive nanotubes and can sit on circuit boards. Mechanical stress that causes a crack in the circuit would also split open some capsules and release the nanotubes to help bridge the gap.

Technology Review reports that outside experts praised the concept, which appeared last week in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

The concept of self-repairing electric circuits could especially help submarines or satellites in situations when manual repair becomes impractical. Even lithium-ion batteries could benefit and avoid failures that could occasionally lead to explosive fires.

PopSci has previously examined self-healing materials, ranging from rubber to remixed concrete and paint. But self-repairing electronic devices could represent one of the best steps yet.

[via Technology Review]