Wearables require an extra layer of flexibility and durability to last for more than a few years. A new self-healing electronic material, created by researchers at Penn State University, could be that extra layer.

The new material is able to fix bends and major incisions, and unlike previous tries, the researchers have been able to heal all of the insulator properties, meaning this is more than a quick fix.

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“Wearable and bendable electronics are subject to mechanical deformation over time, which could destroy or break them,” said Penn State University’s professor, Qing Wang. “We wanted to find an electronic material that would repair itself to restore all of its functionality, and do so after multiple breaks.”

In the video below, the team shows how two boron nitride nanosheets re-connect through hydrogen bonding groups. When the bond is restored, the two nanosheets are essentially stitched back together, with a red marker showing where self-healing has taken place.

Lifepsan of devices not only improvement

The new material could be extremely valuable to wearables and other bendable devices. It could improve the lifespan of devices and also lower the amount of complaints about the device’s build quality.

“This is the first time that a self-healable material has been created that can restore multiple properties over multiple breaks, and we see this being useful across many applications,” said Wang.

Now we just have to wait for Penn State and other researchers involved to license the material to a wearable company, if they’re confident that the new material will work in an uncontrolled environment.

Wearables are definitely one of the biggest emerging technology markets, with a 67-percent increase in sales in the past year. We are bound to see more innovative ideas come from researchers as the market becomes more valuable, to explore how to fix certain problems current wearables face.