Researchers in the U.K. claim to have made a breakthrough in aircraft technology. Reportedly, the British scientists have created "self-healing" airplane wings that can fix themselves in the middle of a flight.
The research team from the University of Bristol, under the leadership of Duncan Wass, took almost three years to develop the self-healing wings, collaborating with aerospace engineers to make sure that there are no cracks in the wings and the fuselage.
According to the BBC, the phenomenon of self-healing in humans inspired the research, with the team aiming for something like the mesh-like scabs that form over wounds.
"We took inspiration from the human body," Wass explained in a statement. "We've not evolved to withstand any damage—if we were like that, we'd have a skin as thick as a rhinoceros'—but if we do get damaged, we bleed, and it scabs and heals. We just put that same sort of function into a synthetic material: Let's have something that can heal itself."
The scientists developed small microspheres that contain liquid carbon. The self-healing carbon liquid-based microspheres, which are spread throughout the airplane wings, burst when a part of the wing is damaged.
The liquid released by the microsphere comes in contact with a catalyst present in the modified wings. Upon contact with the catalyst at the optimum temperature, the liquid hardens, thus fixing the damage to the wings.
The researchers noted that the technique is capable of fixing only small cracks, not large holes, but the technology is promising as even a small crack can lead to massive damage and flight failures.