Scientists in the United States have observed for the first time how cracked pieces of metal repair themselves. The research team stressed that this discovery could allow creation of machines and structures capable of self-healing, without human intervention, in the near future. Yes, many of us think about Terminator.

This discovery upends fundamental scientific theories and could be the start of an engineering revolution. Sandia National Laboratories, a facility run by the US Department of Energy. In this experiment, Sandia worked in conjunction with Texas A&M University.

Scholars have looked at several pure platinum and pieces of copper which spontaneously healed from cracks caused by metal fatigue during experiments at the nanometer level. The original goal was to study how such cracks form and propagate in stressed metals.

Metal fatigue occurs when, after repeated exposure to stress or movement, microscopic cracks appear in it. This deterioration can lead to severe disruptions in areas such as aviation or infrastructure construction such as bridges.

The team used a technique that stretched the ends small pieces of metal about 200 times per second. First, they watched as a crack formed and spread throughout the material. However, after about 40 minutes, they saw the metal fuse together again.

Green marks the place where the crack formed and then merged again. The red arrows indicate the direction of the tensile force that unexpectedly caused this phenomenon.

Airplanes or metal bridges that you can repair yourself

Think of engines, bridges, and aircraft capable of repairing wear and tear damage on their own. This would make them safer and more durable, said Sandia National Laboratories, which published details of the discovery on Wednesday in a magazine. Nature.

“It was absolutely amazing to see it firsthand,” said Brad Boyes, materials scientist at Sandia. “We confirmed that metals have their own intrinsic and natural ability to self-heal, at least in the case of nanoscale fatigue damage,” Boyes added.

The researchers called this healing process “cold welding”. This happens when two relatively smooth and clean metal surfaces come together to re-establish atomic bonds. Unlike what we saw in Terminator, this process is not visible to the naked eye. This happens at the nanometer level.

While the discovery is startling, it is only the beginning of the investigation. “We can’t control the process yet,” Boyes explained. Only then can it be considered as a practical tool in a production environment.

Michael Demkovich, co-author of the study and professor at Texas A&M University, predicted the self-healing ability of metals ten years ago. “I hope this discovery will encourage materials researchers to think that, under certain circumstances, materials can do things we never expected,” Demkovich said.

Source: Hiper Textual

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