Enhanced Mixing of Microvascular Self-Healing Reagents Using Segmented Gas-Liquid Flow

Leon M. Dean, Brett P. Krull, Kevin R. Li, Yelizaveta I. Fedonina, Scott R. White, Nancy R. Sottos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Microvascular self-healing systems have previously been demonstrated to restore large-scale damage and achieve repeated healing of multiple damage events in polymers. However, the healing performance of these systems is often limited because the laminar nature of flow in microchannels results in poor mixing of two-part self-healing reagents. In this paper, we introduce segmented gas-liquid flow (SGLF) to enhance the mixing of reagents in microvascular self-healing systems. In SGLF, discrete liquid slugs containing self-healing reagents are separated by gas bubbles while flowing through a single microchannel. Recirculating streamlines within the liquid slugs can enhance the mixing of miscible liquids such as healing reagents. We investigate the effect of SGLF on mixing and healing for a two-stage chemistry used to restore large-scale damage in thermoset polymers. Additionally, we employ SGLF to deliver an epoxy-thiol chemistry, enabling the repeated recovery of fracture toughness in glass fiber-reinforced composites. In both systems, the mixing of healing agents delivered by SGLF is enhanced compared to alternative microvascular delivery strategies. For the two-stage chemistry, SGLF increases the maximum damage size that can be healed by 25% compared to laminar single-phase flow. Furthermore, there are concomitant increases in the extent of polymerization and the mechanical properties of the restored material, including a fivefold increase in the peak load sustained during a push-out test. For the epoxy-thiol chemistry, SGLF enables multiple healing cycles with healing efficiency above 100%. On the basis of these results, we envision that SGLF could improve performance for a variety of microvascular self-healing systems with different host materials, damage modes, and healing chemistries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32659-32667
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 26 2018


  • composites
  • microfluidic mixing
  • microvascular self-healing
  • multiphase flow
  • self-healing polymers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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