Secret to 'self-healing' glass accidentally discovered by Japanese researchers

Viral       by Dawood Rehman | Published

Viral by Dawood Rehman | Published

The name of the polymer is "polyether-thioureas", per The Guardian, and it can heal itself after accidents. It could be pressed together using bare hands at room temperature. This lack of conduction was why the "self-healing" materials on the LG G Flex 2 were only used for the case rather than the screen. "In most cases, heating to high temperatures, on the order of 120°C or more, to reorganize their cross-linked networks, is necessary for the fractured portions to fix".

"High mechanical robustness and healing ability tend to be mutually exclusive", the researchers wrote in their paper.

Yu Yanagisawa, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, inadvertently solved a problem that had dogged his peers for decades when he was preparing a binding agent from a polymer known as TUEG3.

The Japanese inventor who discovered the polymer was working on a new glue.

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Holding the fractured pieces together for just 30 seconds at 21 degrees celcius was enough to form a merged sheet capable of withstanding 300g in weight, the team found, and it returned to its original strength within a couple of hours, they found.

In an interview with NHK, Yanagisawa said that he repeated his experiments multiple times to confirm his findings. What sets this newly discovered material apart from other similar materials with self-healing properties is that the new material is structurally robust like standard glass.

He said: 'I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken'. This could mean the end to shattered smartphone screens and costly repairs. Fortunately, parts can be replaced or repaired, but at some cost.

The propensity of glass to break when dropped remains a major issue for smartphone makers. Instead, the researchers say that it usually takes about two hours for the polymer to fully fix itself and regain its original strength. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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