Self-healing glass may end smashed phone screens forever

The technology could mean never replacing your phone screen again.
The technology could mean never replacing your phone screen again. Photo credit: Newshub.

A chance discovery by Japanese researchers may soon solve the frustration of smashed phone screens.

While researching various kinds of adhesives, scientists in Japan chanced upon a form of glass with the miraculous ability to heal itself from damage, the Guardian reports. 

Called 'polyether thiourea', the material uniquely combines the strength and versatility of glass but is able to repair itself after being shattered, simply by applying pressure and low heat.  

The discovery was made accidentally by graduate school student Yu Yanagisawa, who was preparing the material as a glue when he found its ability to self -repair.

Mr Yanagisawa reportedly found that he could cut a sheet of the material and then fuse it back together seamlessly with just the pressure and heat from his hands. 

Self-healing plastics and rubbers have previously been developed but this is the first material of its kind which can allegedly self-repair at room temperature. 

In a paper published last week, researchers wrote that up until now, strength and self repair have typically been mutually exclusive and self-repair always required substantial heat.  

"In most cases, heating to high temperatures, on the order of 120°C or more is necessary for the fractured portions to repair."

The research is still in early stages and currently cannot be used in smartphone tech but Mr Yanagisawa told NHK that: "I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken."

Considering replacing most modern smartphone screens costs well in excess of a NZ$100, this new tech might be helping our wallets as much as our environment.