As with numerous best discoveries, the polymer was discovered by accident, The Guardian reports.
'Noncrystalline, high molecular weight polymers generally form mechanically robust materials, which, however, are hard to fix once they are fractured.
The discovery could be a boon for consumers who are forced to walk around with broken screens on their phones, provided companies decide to use it in their designs. The discovery of the self-mending glass at the University of Tokyo may well mean that the days of shattered mobile screens might soon come to an end. The researchers quickly discovered the finding could be used in displays and made a decision to work more on it to see how useful it could be in the real world.More news: CAF Awards: Victor Moses out of final three-man shortlist
Researchers have developed a form of glass capable of repairing itself after shattering, in what could be a significant breakthrough for the smartphone industry.
Researchers said that the high mechanical strength and healing abilities tend to be mutually exclusive. University of Tokyo graduate student Yu Yanagisawa was planning on making the substance into a glue, but discovered the polymer's odd qualities after noticing the edges would bond again after being cut. "In most cases, heating to high temperatures, on the order of 120 degrees Celsius or more, to reorganize their cross-linked networks is necessary for the fractured portions to fix". Unlike other self-healing materials, which require heat to perform their bonding behavior, this glass functions at room temperature. After a couple of hours, the material was back to its original strong self. He said: "I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken".
This is not the first time that any such self-repairing phone technology has been proposed, there were earlier studies on self-repairing screen protectors and a Motorola patent about a self-healing screen.