Discovered by accident, this self-healing glass doesn’t need heat

Our relationship with screens is one of literal fragility. It cracks, chips and crashes on occasion. And it ruins our smartphones, be it iPhone or Pixel. Synthetic sapphire was once hailed as our new resilient hero, but it proved to costly to be practical on a wide scale. Motorola played around with plastics to create a ShatterShield that simply scratched too easily. And it’s not patented a gimmicky “memory glass” solution, needing concentrated areas of heat and no chipping.

Well, enter Japan and new research that began accidentally at the University of Tokyo. Scientists now claim that glass made from “polyether-thioureas” only requires hand-produced pressure to fix any possible cracks and seams, but is also “highly robust mechanically.”

According to The Guardian, graduate student Yu Yanagisawa actually intended to work this polymer into a form of glue, but had played around with it enough to realize that two parts of polyether-thioureas bonded strongly when put together at room temperature and that the whole material regained its original strength in just two hours.

This is probably one of the most promising developments in glass technology yet, but it will take a lot more research to see if touch sensors, LEDs and other elements will be able to optimally pass through the glass — if that even happens.

The full report is available through Science, linked below.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.