Broken phone screen? New healing glass could fix it fast

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As well as signalling potentially cheaper repairs for consumers, it is also a more sustainable material as it won't have to be replaced as often.

We might soon say goodbye to broken phone screens, thanks to a student who accidentally invented self-healing glass.

Researchers in Tokyo have discovered a new polymer that will be able to do just this and will be the future of self-healing phone screens.

Researchers have developed a form of glass capable of repairing itself after shattering, in what could be a significant breakthrough for the smartphone industry. 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. Pressing the edges manually for 30 seconds at a room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius formed a strong sheet that bridged the gap. 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. 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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"High mechanical robustness and healing ability tend to be mutually exclusive", said researchers. "In most cases, heating to high temperatures, on the order of 120 degrees Celsius or more, to reorganize their cross-linked networks is necessary for the fractured portions to fix".

This is not the first time a polymer has been suggested as a healable screen for devices such as smartphones. Earlier this year, researchers from the University of California suggested the use of polymers that heal breaks after 24 hours and could stretch up to 50 times its original size.

Late last week NHK reported that a research group at the University of Tokyo discovered an interesting new glass material that can be repaired with a little pressure applied, even at room temperature.

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