Dropping your phone is the last thing you would like to happen to you, and if you don’t use a case it can end badly. A cracked, scratched, or shattered smartphone screen usually means a visit to the local mobile repair shop and will cost you a lot, but scientists at the University of California may have developed a better alternative: A display that can heal itself.
Chemists at UC Riverside have developed a material that can repair itself from cuts and scratches. They’ve torn it in half and observed it stitching itself back together in less than 24 hours, and they’ve stretched it to 50 times its original size, only to see it remain functional.
The secret is a forgiving chemical bond between molecules.
Two bonds exist in materials, Chao Wang, a chemist leading the self-healing materials research, explained to Science Daily: Covalent bonds, which are strong and don’t readily reform once broken; and non-covalent bonds, which are weaker. The hydrogen bonds that connect water fit into the former, non-covalent category — they break and reform constantly, giving water its fluid property.
The polymer that Wang’s team developed is held together by an ion-dipole bond, a force between charged ions and polar molecules. A polar, stretchable polymer and an ionic salt link tightly together enough to pull the material together when it breaks.
This self repairing material is specifically well suited for smartphones because it conducts electricity. Capacitive touchscreens of our smartphones have electrodes underneath that complete a circuit when in contact with fingers (conductive material). That’s how phones recognize touches, swipes and gestures.
Self repairing smartphone materials aren’t new — LG’s G Flex’s back cover has the ability to heal itself from small scratches. But they couldn’t conduct electricity.
In the coming future, researchers hope to improve this material’s properties. They’re testing it in harsh conditions, such as high humidity. “Previous self-healing polymers haven’t worked well in high humidity,” Wang told Science Daily. “Water gets in there and messes things up. It can change the mechanical properties. We are currently tweaking the covalent bonds within the polymer itself to get these materials ready for real-world applications.”
Experts predict that this self repairing materials will make their way into smartphone screens and batteries by 2020.
“Self repairing materials may seem far away for real application, but I believe they will come out very soon with cellphones,” he told Business Insider. “Within three years, more self-healing products will go to market and change our everyday life. It will make our cellphones achieve performance much better than what they can achieve right now.”
Maybe, after this YouTubers will have to come up with new kind of screen tests! Because these screens wont get scratched!!