Scientists have reportedly invented a way to remove a major bane for many owners of modern smartphones – broken or cracked screens.
The boffins have essentially come up with a self-healing solution that involves enriching mobile phone screens with linseed oil, so they can fix themselves.
The development was revealed in the journal Composite Part B: Engineering, and the research project was led by Dr Yong-Chae Jung, head of the centre at Institute of Advanced Composites Materials at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).
The breakthrough could potentially end the need for costly repair bills when users drop or damage their mobile phones.
In 2015 for example, Motorola released the Moto X Force smartphone, which it claimed had the world’s first “shatterproof” display. It cited research back then that found one in five smartphone owners have a cracked or shattered screen.
And when Apple in October released its latest smartphone, the iPhone 12, it boasted of tougher screen protection, after it worked with Corning to develop its ‘Cermanic Shield’, which Apple claims will dramatically improve screen toughness.
But the South Korean researchers believe their invention will deliver “self-healing” screens containing linseed oil that are capable of fixing cracks on their own in minutes.
The way it works is that the boffins invented microcapsules filled with linseed oil that can be mixed into the polymer used for mobile phone screens. This polymer bilayer film (PBF) is basically sandwiched between two layers of the screen.
So when the screen cracks, the internal capsules also crack and release the linseed oil into the damaged glass. This then hardens into a transparent solid, which effectively ‘heals’ the screen.
The researchers claim that their new process can fix 95 percent of all cracks – and that it can even do so within 20 minutes.
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