Sheffield Hallam receives grant for revolutionary research into ‘self-healing’ materials

Sheffield Hallam University has received part of a £2.7m grant for research into revolutionary ‘self-healing’ materials

Academics from the University’s Materials Engineering Research Institute (MERI) are part of a consortium made up of seven institutions, led by the University of Bristol, forming the Manufacturing Immortality project.

The three-year project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will look into developing new materials made up of biological and non-biological parts which could be capable of self-healing, with MERI co-leading on developing the implementation and testing of these new materials.

Initially the project is aimed at creating materials for use in inaccessible places such as deep-sea cables or radioactive sites, and in the future, potentially consumer goods such as mobile phones with self-healing screens.

Dr Paul Bingham, reader in materials engineering and Hallam’s project lead, said: “This is a substantial and important project and SHU is proud to be part of this team with other leading institutions.

“Manufacturing Immortality will look at materials comprising of bio and non-biological composites, like bacteria with ceramics that could regenerate or self-heal, or become more difficult to break.

“The project team will look at a range of materials that could be used such as glass, electronics and ceramics.

“It’s a long way off, but this does have the potential to one day lead to smartphones with screens that can mend themselves if they become damaged.

“The team hopes that within the next 18 months we will start to see some very exciting results which, by the end of the three year project, could well be fully functioning devices and materials.”

Paul Race, University of Bristol, said: “This is a hugely exciting project that leverages the combined expertise of researchers across seven universities and 13 companies to deliver truly transformative self-healing technologies for use across a range of application areas. Our ultimate ambition is that the outcomes of this project will significantly contribute to positioning the UK as a world leader in innovative manufacturing technologies.”

The £2.7m grant, of which SHU will receive £300,000, was awarded by the EPSRC to the team made up of SHU, Bristol, University of Manchester, Cranfield University, University of Aberdeen, Lancaster University and Northumbria University.

MERI was established in 1990 and is part of the Faculty of ACES (Arts, Computing, Engineering and Science).