This self-healing phone screen could mean no more shattered iPhones

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Many other types of "self-healing" glass require some kind of heat, but this new polymer can be repaired at room temperature just by pressing down on it with your hand.

The researchers quickly discovered the finding could be used in displays and made a decision to work more on it to see how useful it could be in the real world. Now, researchers in Tokyo have discovered a new polymer that may actually heal itself, potentially leading the way to a future of self-healing phone screens.

Graduate student Yu Yanagisawa invented the material by accident while attempting to make a glue.

Called "polyether thiourea", the material uniquely combines the strength and versatility of glass but is able to fix itself after being shattered, simply by applying pressure and low heat.

"High mechanical robustness and healing ability tend to be mutually exclusive", the researchers in a report published in Science magazine and ResearchGate.

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What sets this newly discovered material apart from other similar materials with self-healing properties is that the new material is structurally robust like standard glass. Yanagisawa observed how the cut edges of the polymer stick back together despite their rigid and non-tacky nature. In the past, scientists have come up with rubbers and plastics that can reverse damage. However, the newly discovered polymer can heal itself by applying some hand pressure. What is better still is that the sheets would regain their strength after just a couple of hours.

In an interview with NHK, Yanagisawa said that he repeated his experiments multiple times to confirm his findings.

He said: 'I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken'.

This is not the first time a polymer has been suggested as a healable screen for devices such as smartphones.

It's easy to see how the technology could be a game-changer for phone manufacturers.

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