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Self-Repairing Circuits On The Horizon, Skynet, Here We Come

Discussion in 'News' started by btarunr, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Engineers at the University of Illinois have developed what they claim to be "self-repairing electronic circuits", which have the ability to restore broken circuits, and restore the functionality of whatever uses them. The technology works at the level of the PCB design, countless microscopic capsules filled with liquid metal are placed along with everything else, as the circuit board is being made. When the circuit is broken at a point, those micro-capsules break, and the secreted liquid metal gets channeled into the path of the broken portion of circuit, closing it back up (restoring it). This happens at a very small and localized scale, and dramatically increases MTBF (mean time before failure), if done right.

    The researchers behind this technology call it an excellent solution for electronics that are supposed to be fail-safe, such as avionics, electronics running commercial aircraft, so broken circuits could fix themselves mid-air, and become operational within microseconds. Terms like "self healing electronics" and "liquid metal" instantly bring back pop-culture references to Hollywood epics such as the Terminator, and its dystopian future brought about when one of those self-healing circuits is also made "self-aware". And no, those are just surface-mounted capacitors in the picture.

    [​IMG]

    Sources: The Verge, Wiley Online Library
  2. function69 New Member

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    Very cool indeed
  3. TheMailMan78

    TheMailMan78 Big Member

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    It uses gallium which I need to read up on because its liquid form is much warmer then the usual ambient.
  4. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    This tech sounds wicked. :rockout:

    Nah, you're wrong there. Those are Skynet spores about to burst and replicate. You've been fooled again bta, muhahaha!!! :laugh:
  5. LAN_deRf_HA

    LAN_deRf_HA

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    What type of defects cause the horrendous yields most chips suffer from? Could this get us near 100%?
  6. N-Gen

    N-Gen

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    Very impressive indeed.
  7. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    AFAIK, Gallium is solid at room temperature, but turns to liquid at slightly above room temp, it melts in your hand.

    There are different alloys that either are liquid at room temperature, or stay solid at higher temps.
    Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD
  8. theJesus

    theJesus

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    From my understanding, this only deals with the PCBs and has nothing to do with the actual chips. This is for when a trace on the PCB develops a tiny crack or something, it just gets filled back in. It should save people from having to bake their graphics cards in an oven to fix bad traces :laugh:
  9. N-Gen

    N-Gen

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    Or baking your aircraft mid flight. They should make self repairing game controllers, big market for that lol
    theJesus says thanks.
  10. Benetanegia

    Benetanegia New Member

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    Around 30º Celsius, so I wonder how it really works. I get it's a very limited temporal fix because being so easy to melt, it's going to be liquid nearly all the time in any kind of circuit and any movement will spill it all over the place too.
  11. TheMailMan78

    TheMailMan78 Big Member

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    Well the Gallium is sealed in a "capsule" which breaks when the circuit does. The entire circuit is made of these capsules. I mean I just don't know how it becomes solid again AFTER the break. The Gallium would have to be doped perfect to bond. I mean PERFECT. Also what I meant about "usual ambient" is in avionics. Like at 30,000 feet. Sorry my mind trying to wrap itself around this.

    [​IMG]

    The the channel is littered with those lil Gallium eggs. In theory I guess it would never have to become solid again as it would be trapped in the channel. I mean IMO its not a permanent solution but its a great safety net.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  12. Delta6326

    Delta6326

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    Well if these are not permanent then will they make it so it can be detected, so say your mid flight one pops open a signal gets sent to the cab that there was a problem, but now it's fixed so once they land they can "fix" the problem.:confused: Would be cool:rockout:
  13. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    baking cards is done because the lead-free solder used in todays parts, if not hte perfect type, can crack and split after cycling through load and idle many times. heating the part allows the sodler to flow back together, fixing the circuit. It's usually the solder balls under teh GPU package that are affected(as well as in all those laptops with nVidia GPUs that failed and the XBOX360 GPU issues).


    this seems to be tech to repair PCB damages, not solder damages.
    theJesus says thanks.
  14. TheMailMan78

    TheMailMan78 Big Member

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    Well it could also be permanent if the channel is sealed with a non conductive "Roof" and "Floor". Looking at that graph it seems to be what they are doing. If so then......

    [​IMG]
  15. Nick89

    Nick89

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    Neat.
  16. joyman

    joyman

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    This sounds really great. They need to adapt this tech to rubber dolls - supreme tech innovation. :cool:
  17. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    Well I could see a few things being possible:

    A.) There are two different capsules. One with the Gallium substance and another with another chemical. When the capsules are broken the Gallium flows into the broken circuit, and the second chemical causes it to harden after certain amount of time, giving the Gallium enough time to flow into the break.

    B.) The surface of the circuit is coated in a chemical that reacts with the Gallium substance and causes the Gallium to harden once the capsule is broken.

    C.) The electric current flowing through the circuit causes the Gallium substance to harden. The substance would obviously have to reactive to this type of thing, and I don't know if that is possible(though this might be part of their breakthrough).
    Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD
  18. DigitalUK

    DigitalUK New Member

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    this doesnt sound that great really apart from the headline title, as most failures i see are down to components (caps, resistors etc) not down to the tracks breaking, which is pretty rare thing.
  19. Super XP

    Super XP

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    I can see this working in future Space Craft, sometime 15 to 20 years in the future from today.
  20. ViperXTR

    ViperXTR

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    i reckon Master Chief will be using this tech soon? Health/Shield regeneration and all D:
  21. Benetanegia

    Benetanegia New Member

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    Do you work for the aircraft industry? Because I certainly don't, but even from near complete ignorance on the matter, I can totally envision lots of micro-cracks on the PCBs because of the extreme temperature changes that avionics face off. It's a constant cycle of expansion and contraction of materials.
  22. DigitalUK

    DigitalUK New Member

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    yes from the vibration on aircraft etc maybe a different story (i have no aircraft experience either), i missed the part at the bottom as it was getting late about being directed towards the aviation industry. i was thinking more of home electronics etc..
  23. THE_EGG

    THE_EGG

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    Now all I need is this technology installed onto my car. :D
  24. newtekie1

    newtekie1 Semi-Retired Folder

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    Crunching for Team TPU More than 25k PPD
  25. THE_EGG

    THE_EGG

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