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The phone screen that can heal itself: Researchers reveal 'unbreakable' glass

20 December 2017

As with numerous best discoveries, the polymer was discovered by accident, The Guardian reports. "In most cases, heating to high temperatures, on the order of 120°C or more, to reorganize their cross-linked networks, is necessary for the fractured portions to fix".

The discovery could be a boon for consumers who are forced to walk around with broken screens on their phones, provided companies decide to use it in their designs.

The self-healing polymer, created by researchers at the University of Tokyo, was initially discovered by accident while they were studying new adhesives. This lack of conduction was why the "self-healing" materials on the LG G Flex 2 were only used for the case rather than the screen.

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Graduate school student Yu Yanagisawa discovered observed how cut edges of the polymer would stick together, despite their "rigid and non-tacky nature", he and his team wrote in journal Science.

The discovery comes a little over half a year after researchers at the University of California, Riverside discovered another, similar polymer that could be stretched to 50 times its original size and could stitch itself back together within a day.

It was said that Yanagisawa's newly discovered polymer could once again form a strong sheet after being manually compressed for just 30 seconds at 21°C. This isn't the first time we've seen self-repairing phone tech, of course, with screen protectors that heal themselves and a Motorola patent for a self-repairing screen.

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That's a big difference from other materials which have needed high heat to heal themselves. The material returned to its original strength in just a couple of hours.

In general the polymer is "highly robust mechanically yet can readily be repaired by compression at fractured surfaces". He said: "I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken".

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The phone screen that can heal itself: Researchers reveal 'unbreakable' glass