In 2017 the vast majority of mobile phones on the market are now smartphones, and regardless of which one you buy they’re all pretty amazing. We can literally access all the information known to man, browse Chattr, watch the latest ‘Star Wars‘ trailer, listen to our entire record collection on demand and snap digital camera quality photos of our lunch. All of this from a small brick that fits in our pockets. But as great as smartphones are, they all suffer from one major design floor.
Their absurdly fragile screens.
In my experience at least, I haven’t meet anyone who hasn’t cracked the screen on one of their phones over the years. In many cases it’s cheaper to replace the entire phone than the screen. However, scientists from the University of California may have finally found a solution to this problem, creating a material that literally repairs itself when smashed—and no it isn’t a marketing gimmick.
The material was inspired by Wolverine who, apart from the ability to project swords from his knuckles, can heal himself whenever he’s damaged. Much like the Marvel character the researchers have claimed that, if literally torn apart, the material has the ability to stitch itself back together within 24 hours. It achieves this by mixing a polar, stretchable polymer and a mobile ionic salt, which then link together through the ion-dipole charge between each. While self-healing polymers have been around for a while it’s the ion-dipole charge that means this new material is conductive and can be used for a touch screen phone.
So is this something we can see in our smartphones in the near future? One of the leading researchers involved, Chao Wang, believes that we could see the necessary materials developed in his lab to find themselves within smartphones in the next three years. With the influx of super high-end displays such as the one found on the new Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+, this could be one of the greatest and most vital breakthroughs in the smartphone industry in recent years.
Until this becomes a reality though the only sure-fire way to protect your phone is simple: Try not to drop it.