Researchers at the University of Cambridge are using microencapsulation technologies developed by Dolomite Microfluidics to develop self-healing construction materials. As highlighted in recent BBC News broadcasts, the Department of Engineering's Geotechnical and Environmental Research Group is developing microcapsules containing ‘healing' agents – such as minerals, epoxy or polyurethane – which can be added to building materials to allow self-repair of small cracks which develop over time. Dr Livia Ribeiro de Souza, a postdoctoral researcher in the group, explained: "Many composite building materials used in the construction industry – such as concrete – suffer fatigue over time, developing small cracks. We are hoping to overcome this problem by adding microcapsules filled with ‘healing' agents to the concrete before it is used. The idea is that, as cracks begin to form, they rupture the microcapsules, releasing their payload and stabilizing the material."
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