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Newly discovered polymer could make shattered screens a thing of the past

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A team of researchers of Japanese researchers say they’ve discovered the holy grail of mobile computing: a new type of glass that can heal itself from cracks.

Published in the journal Science, a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo believe they’ve found a hard glass-like polymer called “polyetherthioureas” that can heal itself with mild heat and hand pressure.

According to the researchers:

High mechanical robustness and healing ability tend to be mutually exclusive. In most cases, heating to high temperatures, on the order of 120 degrees Celsius or more, to reorganize their cross-linked networks is necessary for the fractured portions to repair.

Their method, however would only require mild compression (by hand) and a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (69.8 Fahrenheit).

The discovery happened, as many great discoveries do, by accident.

The discovery was made by graduate student Yu Yanagisawa, who thought the material would work as a type of glue. He found though, that after he cut the edges of the polymer what remained would stick to itself and form a hardened bond once compressed and heated ever-so-slightly.

It’s not our first rodeo with self-healing polymers but let’s hope this one, um, sticks. I’ll see myself out.

End of the smashed phone screen? Self-healing glass discovered by accident on The Guardian

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