Japanese Scientists Accidentally Discover Glass That Repairs Its Own Cracks In Seconds

End of the smashed phone screen? Self-healing glass discovered by accident

Japanese Scientists Accidentally Discover Glass That Repairs Its Own Cracks In Seconds

University of Tokyo graduate student Yu Yanagisawa was planning on making the substance into a glue, but discovered the polymer's odd qualities after noticing the edges would bond again after being cut. This makes it unique from the other materials that require high heat to heal up from a break or crack. After a few hours, the glass sheet was again at its original strength with no blemishes at all.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo, led by Professor Takuzo Aida, found a new material, a polymer, which can "heal itself" when a small amount of pressure is applied. That might sound like it could be an awesome breakthrough when it comes to cracked screens but questions still remain if it would be as responsive as other phone screens out there and if under screen fingerprint sensors would work through this material.

"High mechanical robustness and healing ability tend to be mutually exclusive", the researchers wrote on their paper. 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.

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To date, scientists have already come up with rubber, plastic, and concrete self-healing materials.

Yanagisawa told NHK that he didn't believe the results at first and repeated his experiments multiple times to confirm the finding. Still, I wouldn't hold on to my current smartphone until self-healing glass becomes more mainstream, as it could take several years to fully develop the technology for smartphones. Yanagisawa hopes that polyether-thioureas will prove an environmentally friendly material as components made from it can be fixed rather than thrown away. While it might affect the cost of mobile phones should smartphone manufacturers use healable materials in the future, it could still save consumers hundreds of dollars in costly glass repairs.

The problem of broken glass, as an inconvenience, expense, and waste issue is brought sharply into focus for many who are unfortunate enough to drop their smartphone. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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