Shattered Phone Screen
Chemists at UC Riverside have developed material that could change the future of cell phone screens. Bankrate

Chemists at the University of California at Riverside have developed a cell phone screen that can heal itself, according to Business Insider. While similar self-healing materials have been developed in the past, they haven’t been able to transmit the electricity required to operate a smartphone screen. The LG G Flex, and several other phones have material on their back covers that can self-heal.

Choa Wang, a lead chemist on the project, believes the material will be available on cell phones by 2020. Researchers tested the materials ability to repair itself by tearing it in half. Within 24 hours, it had automatically put itself back together with little evidence of being destroyed.

The material is made of a stretchable polymer and ionic salt. It also has a special bond called an ion-dipole interaction that creates a force between charged ions and polar molecules. When the molecules are torn apart or scratched, they attract to each other and repair themselves. The material can be stretched 50 times its original size without breaking. A smartphone screen would rarely be put in a situation to stretch 50 times its size, but it gives reassurance to people of its durability.

The team is presenting its findings to the American Chemical Society in an attempt to receive support for their research. “Self-healing materials may seem far away for real application, but I believe they will come out very soon with cellphones,” Wang said in an interview. “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.”

This development could heavily influence the world of cell phones and cell phone cases. If Samsung or Apple choose to use this material on their cell phones, the need for protective cases will diminish. However, it may put cell phone developers at risk of having to repair numerous screens if anything goes wrong. The companies would have to provide some sort of guarantee to customers for the life of the screen.