Technology hasn't reached the point where a mechanic can walk up to a deteriorating airplane and urge: "Wing, heal thyself!" But that exhortation now comes to mind. Researchers have developed a composite material that has the ability to repair small cracks within itself.
The new material incorporates microcapsules that contain a liquid healing agent. The engineers and chemists who developed the composite say it could be used to extend the reliability and the service life of electronic and aerospace components. They describe their research in the Feb. 15 Nature.
Structural composites are typically made up of high-strength fibers embedded within a polymer matrix, says Scott R. White, an aero