Self-healing of electrical damage in polymers using superparamagnetic nanoparticles

Yang Yang, Jinliang He, Qi Li, Lei Gao, Jun Hu, Rong Zeng, Jian Qin, Shan X. Wang, Qing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

178 Scopus citations


High-voltage power transmission in electrical grids requires reliable and durable dielectric polymers for wire insulation1,2. Electrical treeing caused by high, local electric fields is a damaging process that leads to structure degradation and electrical conduction of dielectric materials, and ultimately, to catastrophic failure of the devices3–5. Here, we demonstrate that the addition of less than 0.1 volume per cent of superparamagnetic nanoparticles into a thermoplastic polymer enables the repair of regions damaged by electrical treeing and the restoration of the insulating properties. Under the application of an oscillating magnetic field, the embedded nanoparticles migrate to the electrical trees and generate a higher local temperature, which heals the electrical tree channels in the polymer. Our method allows us to regenerate the dielectric strength and electrical resistivity over multiple cycles of tree formation and healing, which could be used to increase the lifespan and sustainability of power cables for electronics and energy applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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