Inspired by biological systems, in which damage triggers an autonomous healing response, a polymer composite material that can heal itself when cracked has been developed. The material consists of an epoxy matrix composite, which utilizes embedded microcapsules to store a healing agent and an embedded catalyst. This paper investigates issues of fracture and fatigue consequential to the development and optimization of this new class of materials. When damage occurs, the propagating crack ruptures the microcapsules, which releases healing agent into the crack plane. Polymerization of the healing agent is triggered by contact with exposed catalyst, which bonds the crack faces closed. The efficiency of crack healing is defined as the ability of a healed sample to recover fracture toughness. Healing efficiencies of over 90% have been achieved. Embedded microcapsules significantly increase the fracture toughness and reduce the fatigue crack propagation rate of epoxy. Fracture mechanisms for neat epoxy and epoxy with embedded microcapsules are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalMaterials Research Society Symposium - Proceedings
StatePublished - 2003
EventBioinspired Nanoscale Hybrid Systems - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Dec 2 2002Dec 4 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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