Autonomous self-repair in piezoelectric molecular crystals

Science. 2021 Jul 16;373(6552):321-327. doi: 10.1126/science.abg3886.


Living tissue uses stress-accumulated electrical charge to close wounds. Self-repairing synthetic materials, which are typically soft and amorphous, usually require external stimuli, prolonged physical contact, and long healing times. We overcome many of these limitations in piezoelectric bipyrazole organic crystals, which recombine following mechanical fracture without any external direction, autonomously self-healing in milliseconds with crystallographic precision. Kelvin probe force microscopy, birefringence experiments, and atomic-resolution structural studies reveal that these noncentrosymmetric crystals, with a combination of hydrogen bonds and dispersive interactions, develop large stress-induced opposite electrical charges on fracture surfaces, prompting an electrostatically driven precise recombination of the pieces via diffusionless self-healing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't