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Audrey Cuvellier

In 2010 I finished my high school at Koninklijk Atheneum Grimbergen in science and mathematics. Having always been passionate about science, I started a bachelor in engineering sciences at the Free university of Brussels and graduated in 2015 after having obtained my master degree in engineering sciences: chemistry and material sciences with highest distinction. For my first master project and my master thesis I had the opportunity to work on self-healing polymers, ‘Creation of a nanovascular network for use in self-healing applications’ and ‘Selection of healing agents for a vascular self-healing application’, respectively at the Physical Chemistry and Polymer Science research group (FYSC). In both cases a vascular network (interconnected channels that could be compared with veins in the human body) was used to carry the healing agents (amine-epoxy chemistry) to the damage site. This vascular network was created by embedding sacrificial electrospun polysaccharide fibres into the matrix, after which they were dissolved in water to leave a network of interconnected channels behind. The healing agents then needed to be infused by capillary forces.

In October 2015 I started my PhD at FYSC, which was in line with my master thesis. The project is again on self-healing polymers that use a vascular network to carry the healing agents, but the vascular network will no longer be made using sacrificial fibres. Instead core-shell fibres, made through coaxial electrospinning and with a liquid core of healing agents and a solid shell, will be used. This will eliminate the time consuming dissolution and infusion steps making the process easier to upscale to the industrial level.