According to a new study published in Advanced Materials, a new form of Self-healing ion gel can self-heal at ambient temperature without the influence of any external stimuli such as light or temperature. The new Self-healing ion gel designed by researchers from Japan exhibits excellent toughness and self-healing ability without any detectable change in the environment.
Self-healing Ion gels have attracted a lot of attention for their unique attributes including low tendency of evaporation at room temperature, high thermal stability, and high ionic conductivity. The research team including scientists from the University of Tokyo and Yokohama National University created an ion gel, a particular type of polymer gel comprising of macromolecular networks filled by ionic liquid or salts in liquid form. They demonstrated the ion gel which is capable of healing rapidly on its own at room temperature and outstanding toughness of the material, resulting from several hydrogen bonds within the material.
According the scientists, materials in ion gel form a diblock copolymer which when combined with liquid salts lead to the final micellar structure, responsible for all unique properties of the ion gel.
One of the materials which is repelled by ionic liquid forms the core while the other that bonds with hydrogen forms the outer side of ion gel. In the demonstration, the team discovered that ion gels can improve their strength and self-healing capacity with the introduction of hydrogen bonding.
According to a corresponding author Ryota Tamate, ion gels are promising candidate for use in flexible or wearable electronic devices which are expected to be bent or stretched many a times in daily use. As ion gels have self-healing capacity, it can typically fix any damage or crack in the device during stretching and bending, thereby improving its durability, he added.
The scientist explained that hydrogen bonding is reversible which mainly contributes to the ion gel’s ability to self-heal. Although many ion gels have been developed over the years, attaining both high toughness and self-healing ability continued to be a huge challenge. Electrochemical and mechanical properties of newly developed gel were similar to those of unaltered ion gel.
Moreover, the self-standing features of the ion gel make it a better solid electrolyte for future applications, specifically in flexible electronics. Ultimately, the researchers suggested their desire to develop new functional ion gels for building new devices.