Microfluidic fabrication of microcapsules tailored for self-healing in cementitious materials
Autonomic self-healing in cement-based infrastructure materials has recently emerged as a promising strategy for extending the service life of concrete infrastructure. Amongst the various self-healing systems being developed, the use of microcapsules has received significant attention partly because of its ease implementation. Up to date, microcapsules for self-healing applications have been mainly manufactured using bulk emulsifications polymerisation techniques. However this methodology raises concerns regarding shell dimensions and interfacial bonding. This study proposes for the first time the fabrication of microcapsules with tailored characteristics for mechanically triggered self-healing action in cement-based composites. For this, a microfluidic device was used to produce a double emulsion template for the formation of microcapsules, containing both aqueous and organic liquid core. In addition, a novel method has been proposed to functionalize the microcapsules' surface with hydrophilic groups in order to increase the interfacial bond with the cementitious host matrix. The core retention was studied using EDX and TGA, and their mechanical triggering was investigated via SEM of the microcapsules embedded in the cement paste. The results demonstrated the capability of microfluidics to produce microcapsules with liquid organic core, thin shell, hydrophilic surface and appropriate fracture strength for use in mechanically triggered self-healing of cementitious materials.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K026631/1)