Omer Khan, Avanade
The days of shattered smartphone screens could soon be over. Japanese researchers at the University of Tokyo have accidentally developed a new type of glass that can heal itself from cracks and breaks.
The glass is made from a low weight polymer called “polyether-thioureas” that can heal cracks when simply pressed together by hand, without the need for high heat to melt the material.
Graduate school student Yu Yanagisawa was the rst to discover the healing properties of the glass, when he was preparing the material as glue. Yanagisawa found that when he cut the polymer surface, the edges would adhere to each other, healing to form a strong sheet after being compressed for 30 seconds at room temperature. Further experimentation found that the healed material regained its original strength after a couple of hours.
Yanagisawa didn’t believe the results at rst and repeated his experiments multiple times to con rm the nding. He said, “I hope the repairable glass becomes a new environment-friendly material that avoids the need to be thrown away if broken.”