How the technology is being used
Professor Wass's team at the University of Bristol has been focusing on the creation of self-healing versions of carbon fibre composite materials, which are used widely in the aerospace industry but also have many other applications.
* The BMW i8 electric sports car has a carbon fibre passenger compartment to make up for the weight of its heavy battery. The material is already attractive to car manufacturers as it is 30 per cent lighter than aluminium - and self-healing technology would make it safer too.
* The Airbus A380 passenger jet has a carbon fibre reinforced plastic fuselage for a lower fuel consumption. The researchers claim the new technology would allow wings to fix themselves in mid-flight, and allow engineers to spot cracks more easily.
* Offshore wind turbines could also benefit from self-healing technology, as they are often damaged by bird strikes. The carbon composite blades are 100 feet in the air, so maintaining them is notoriously expensive and difficult.
* Carbon fibre bicycle frames are popular with cyclists as they are so light, but they are also liable to crack. If they could self heal, their durability could be massively increased and the technology could also be applied to crash helmets.
* Sports equipment such as tennis racquets, fishing rods and golf clubs are often made from carbon fibre composites for the same reasons.
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