Display technology in smartphones has come a long way in just a few short years, as has the protective layer that covers the display. Now, future smartphones are getting a headstart in being even better thanks to research out of the University of California at Riverside. Currently, smartphones are covered in Corning Gorilla Glass which does offer much better protection to your digitizer than ever before. But the chemists at UofC Riverside have made some strides in giving future smartphones a self-healing display that could get Corning scrambling.
The chemists have invented a material, shown in lab tests, that can heal itself from cuts, scratches, and even tears. One experiment saw them tear the material in half and in 24-hours the material had stitched itself back to shape.
The material, which can stretch to 50 times its original size, is made of a stretchable polymer and an ionic salt. It features a special type of bond called an ion-dipole interaction, which is a force between charged ions and polar molecules. This means that when the material breaks or has a scratch, the ions and molecules attract to each other to heal the material.
This is the first time scientists have created a self-healing material that can conduct electricity, making it especially useful for use for cellphone screens and batteries, Wang says.
LG already introduced a similar idea in the LG G Flex but their design lacks the ability to conduct electricity which means it can’t be used for displays. While this is certainly a step in the right direction for future smartphones and other gadgets, there is still much work to do. As you can see from the example above, the healing photo still exhibits some damage but it’s still impressive.
“Self-healing materials may seem far away for real application, but I believe they will come out very soon with cellphones,” he said. “Within three years, more self-healing products will go to market and change our everyday life. It will make our cellphones achieve much better performance than what they can achieve right now.”
Last Updated on April 5, 2017.