June 9, 2014
Shatterproof Your Smartphone
Do people really have a problem with the screens of their smartphones cracking? I hear about it all the time, but have never actually had it happen. Given, I am pretty careful with my phone and thus have not had it fall very often. That, and most of the time I see people using an Otterbox or some other protective cover, so I never really thought that this would be much of a problem, but I guess that it is. New technology may be incredible, but it is not always all that durable, and smartphones are no exception to that. If anything, from how often I hear about this sort of thing happening, they may well be the example. In regards to this, I expect that there will be cause for much celebration given the news of a new, shatterproof screen that may soon be on the market.
Scientists from the University of Akron have recently developed a see-through electrode that will make smartphone screens much more resistant to damage. The team has demonstrated the shatterproof tech by showing how a transparent layer of electrodes on a polymer surface could be both incredibly tough and incredibly flexible. This was shown by the new film being able to retain its original shape and its functionality despite being bent 1,000 times. In addition to that, this new coating has the same transparency as our currently used designs but has even greater conductivity. In their showing, they demonstrated how it could withstand repeated scotch tape peeling and bending tests. This new design is a great improvement over the currently used indium tin oxide (ITO) coatings, which are more brittle, more likely to shatter, and are actually more expensive to manufacture. This novel new film can be easily, and cost-efficiently fabricated in economical, mass-quantity rolls which will make it a true competitor to ITO, which was one of the initial goals of the project.
This incredible new coating was designed by Yu Zhu, UA assistant professor of polymer science, Darrell Reneker, professor of polymer science also at UA, and UA graduate students Tianda He and Aozhen Xia.
According to Professor Zhu, “We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor. The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen.”
We can only hope.
A new smartphone screen, more resistant to cracking and shattering than before as well as cheaper to produce overall? Sounds like a win/win to me.
So, for everyone out there who has dropped their brand new smartphone and had the screen crack or shatter, this one is for you. Soon, such things will be problems of the past as this new shatter-proofing will help ensure the safety of your phone despite any clumsiness or random accidents. As for me, I am going to continue to be careful with mine as, knowing my luck, me talking about how I have never had this happen to me has just jinxed me and I might soon need this new coating on my phone too.