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.*
“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,” explained Dr. Livia Ribeiro de Souza, a postdoctoral researcher in the group.
“This approach requires the formation and functionalization of double emulsion microcapsules, which we have been producing with the help of microfluidics. We have been using a Dolomite Microfluidics system since 2014, and find that microfluidics offers much better control of particle size and composition than traditional emulsification polymerization techniques, simplifying the investigation and optimization of particle properties,” continued Dr. Ribeiro de Souza.
The Dolomite system has enabled the researchers to create functionalized microcapsules that bind more strongly to the cement matrix, while also having thinner shell walls and higher core retention, improving their self-healing properties. “It is good to be able to discuss any issues we’re having with the experts at Dolomite Microfluidics, helping to accelerate our research and move us a step closer to real world applications,” explained Dr. Ribeiro de Souza.
For more information, visit www.dolomite-microfluidics.com.
About Dolomite Microfluidics
Established in 2005, Dolomite Microfluidics has grown to be the world leader in the design and manufacture of high quality innovative microfluidic products.
The company offers a range of microfluidic systems, components and specialist chemicals – including pumps, chips, connectors, temperature controllers, sensors, accessories and custom-made components – as well as software for analysis or automation.
Modularity, ease of use, innovation and scalability are common to all Dolomite Microfluidics products, which are used across a broad range of applications in biology, drug discovery, chemistry, food, cosmetics and academia.
Dolomite is a part of the Blacktrace group of companies, a world leader in Productizing Science®, and has offices in the USA, Japan, India , Brazil and Hanoi as well as a worldwide network of distributors.
* Lívia Ribeiro de Souza and Abir Al-Tabbaa. Construction and Building Materials, 2018, 184, 713-722.