Self-Healing Adhesives and Composites

Period of Performance: 08/23/2006 - 05/23/2007


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Luna Innovations, Inc.
301 1st St Suite 200
Roanoke, VA 24011
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Southwest Research Institute
6220 Culebra Road, P.O. Drawer 28510
San Antonio, TX 78238
Institution POC


The replacement of metal aerospace structures with polymer matrix composites (PMCs) provides up to 50% weight savings. This reduction in weight will enable significant gains in performance (increased range, payload, and velocities) and decreased costs. One of the obstacles to the widespread use of composites is their susceptibility to mechanical and thermal damage, particularly at joints between adjacent components. These thermal or mechanical stresses result in microcracking, which ultimately leads to structural failure. Recent research has demonstrated the ability for microencapsulated monomers to self-heal a damaged composite by filling in these cracks as they are formed. While the fundamental demonstration of technique was successful, its large scale implementation has been obstructed due to cost limitations and material incompatibility leading to poor bonding. Luna Innovations proposes to advance this technology with the use of inexpensive healing materials that will form strong, tough bonds to the composites and adhesives to prevent crack propagation. Luna s team has extensive experience in the areas of microencapsulation, self healing materials, composites fabrication, and testing.