The heartache and frustration of a smashed smartphone screen – perhaps the one you’ve just bought your son or daughter for Christmas – could soon be a thing of the past.
Japanese researchers claim to have developed a new type of glass that can repair itself when it cracks so smashed smartphone screens could be repaired incredibly simply.
Glass made from a low weight polymer known as “polyether-thioureas” can heal cracks when pressed together by hand, without the need for extreme heat to melt and fuse it together again.
Polymer screens could be used in phones, tablets and computers
Researchers at the University of Tokyo say the self-repairing glass could be used in smartphones, tablets and computer screens.
Self-healing rubber and plastics have already been developed, but the research team say the new material is the first hard substance of its kind that can be healed at room temperature, simply by pressing the glass together.
The new polymer glass is highly robust mechanically yet can readily be repaired by compression at fractured surfaces.
Unique properties of new glass were discovered by accident
The unique properties of the polyether-thioureas glass were discovered accidentally when students were preparing the material as a glue.
It was discovered that when the surface of the polymer was cut the edges would adhere to each other, healing to form a strong sheet after being manually compressed for 30 seconds at 21°C.
A smashed smartphone screen will regain original strength
What’s more, the previously smashed smartphone screen will regain its original strength after a couple of hours.
The research team said: “We hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken.”
While the polymer-thioureas glass is heralded as a massive breakthrough for the mobile phone and gadget market to new technology is some way from winning over manufacturers such as Apple, Google, HTC and Sony.
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