Wednesday, 27 December 2017

New Polymer Which Heals When Cracked Could Take Center Stage in The Plethora of Phone Screens

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Polymer heals when cracked
A cracked iphone screen

The scream, the sudden rush to snatch it back whilst in mid-air, before the unwanted happens as it hits the ground. This is a common experience among smartphone users. Having a cracked phone screen can understandably leave one frustrated, whether you're trying to type a character which for no reason just doesn't want to appear on-screen, to the poor engagement one goes through while watching movies. However, all these problems could be a thing of the past as a new material accidentally developed by researchers in Tokyo could potentially lead to phone screens that self-heal after a crack.


Yu Yanagisawa, a Graduate student came across this new polymer while he was trying to develop a type of glue. He realized that the material formed a hard glass-like surface, and small cuts or breaks would heal in a few seconds. Due to the remarkable properties of this glue, he knew for a truth where t
his could lead to.


A sizeable number of other self-healing hard polymers produced in the lab 
have to be exposed to high heat of at least 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit) to essentially melt the tangled polymer chains and reset the covalent bonds. Softer polymers do exist which don’t need to be heated because they rely on hydrogen bonds to heal damage. Notwithstanding, hydrogen bonded materials do end up crystallizing and clustering which in turn messes up the healing process. The newly discovered material, Polyether-thiourea on the other hand, heals neatly, Owing to its hydrogen-bonded thiourea which is non-linear and breaks up any crystalline structure.


The material is able to heal itself of fine cracks in a span of 30 seconds. Pressing the edges together and chilling around for it to stick enables it to perform just as it did before t
he brake and no less remarkable is the ability of it to heal at room temperature. The backbone behind this process is the hydrogen bonds between hydrogen and sulphur atoms.These are easier to re-associate than covalent bonds, but they’re also weaker however, with enough of them the material can be made quite robust. Hydrogen bonds also being widely known to be what gives water surface tension, is a bond between hydrogen and oxygen.
 
Polyether-thiourea  A self healing hydrogen bond compound
Polyether-thiourea - A self healing hydrogen bond compound

In as much as we all desire its possible integration in phone screens as some people would opt to purchase one over a refurbished screen, this technology still has a lot of tweaking to undergo which may include; resistance to scratches, optical Clearness to display Under it, cost of manufacturing for Phone screens and a lot more to take into consideration, to put it one step ahead of Other Smartphone displays.

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