With Self-Repairing Phone Screens, Cracked iPhones Can Be History

self healing glass polymer cracked screen

If you’re tired of cracked iPhone jokes or not sure if a smartphone insurance for a cracked screen is really necessary, we’ve got good news: your troubles could come to an end.

Meet polyether-thioureas, something that doesn’t sound as cool as Gorilla Glass.  It’s really amazing though: it self-repairs after being cracked.

Some self-healing glass types exist already and we talked about that here, but they come with the caveat of only working when applying a larger amount of heat. With this polyether-thioureas, discovered by a University of Tokyo student, the glass self-repairs at room temperature (21 °c). You just have to press down on it with your hands for 30 seconds and the cracks will disappear.

Moreso, the healed material is back at full strength after just a few hours. #mobilemagic

This polymer was discovered accidentally when the student in question, Yu Yanasisawa, was trying to make glue out of the substance. He then noticed that its edges would bond together again after being cut.

The polyether-thioureas creator has high expectations for the material, but another challenge presents itself.

“I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken,” said Yanasiwa.

That challenge is, of course, to see if this material can conduct electricity, an important task for the electrodes found beneath a smartphone screen.

This is why, for example, the self-repairing properties of the LG G Flex 2 were only limited to the case, not the screen itself.

However, we’re still looking forward to a future without the need for smartphone insurance in case of crack screens, especially since edge-to-edge displays make for very slippery phones. Not to mention “iPhone cracked screen” search results turn up thousands of such unfortunate accidents.

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