Smartphones have a come a long way since their invention in the 1970s, but one problem persists: the tendency for screens to scratch and crack.
Now a team of chemists at the University of California at Riverside have developed a self-healing material that could consign that problem to history.
Inspired by X-Men’s Wolverine’s ability to self-heal, the miracle material is transparent, conductive and highly stretchable.
Researchers claim it could have a range of applications, from giving robots the ability to self-repair to extending the lifetime of lithium ion batteries.
“Creating a material with all these properties has been a puzzle for years,” said Chao Wang, an assistant professor of chemistry and co-author of the research. “We did that and now are just beginning to explore the applications.”
In a blog from UC Riverside, Wang was said to have “developed an interest in self-healing materials because of his lifelong love of Wolverine, the comic book character who has the ability to self-heal”.
It’s not the first smartphone material which promises to self-heal. Three years ago, LG released the LG Flex, a curved smartphone with a back that could recover from scratches in just a few minutes.
But the surface wasn’t conductive, preventing it from being used for the phone’s touch screen.
Wang told Business Insider the material could go into production in just three years’ time: “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.”
The material developed by UC Irvine will take a little longer to repair than the LG Flex – 24 hours at room temperature – but that’s a small price to pay for an immaculate phone.
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