NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed an innovative coating to heal cracks in metal components, such as in aircraft and bridges. Currently, the coating is used for in-laboratory repairs of surface cracks. Development continues with the ultimate goal of an in-situ healing mechanism that can work autonomously with structural health monitoring detectors.

Multiple cracks in an aircraft skin are healed with the thermally activated coating.

A metal structure is coated with a low-temperature healing agent and when a crack is produced under cyclic load, it is then subjected to an external heat source (to heat the healing film to 250 °F – 300 °F). The component is processed in a vacuum. The coating has been prototyped on a titanium alloy sheet with an indium-tin eutectic alloy coating. Development is ongoing to produce a coating that does not require a vacuum and utilizes an integrated heat source.

The coating format works well with current aircraft practices. This technology has potential applications in aerospace and transportation infrastructure.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact The Technology Gateway at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link for more information: here .


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the July, 2017 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.