The truly shatterproof screen is a little bit like the flying car: It's been promised for years, but never arrives. Scientists at University of Akron claim they have cracked the code, so to speak, by creating a super-tough screen out of transparent electrodes.
Right now, your smartphone screen is coated with a clear, conductive substance called indium tin oxide, or ITO. It's used on just about everything — from LCD displays to plasma TVs to cockpit windows on planes. The problem is that it's very expensive, there's a limited supply of it, and it's also pretty fragile. Researchers have been trying to find an alternative for a long time — and a team of polymer engineers in Akron think they have done it.
In a study published in American Chemical Society's journal ACS Nano, an assistant professor of polymer science named Yu Zhu describes a novel method of creating a super-tough conductive screen. Instead of ITO, the team created a mesh of metal electrodes and sandwiched it to a layer of polymer. The result was a super-tough screen that stood up to brutal testing. And most importantly, it's cheap to produce — and not limited to a small supply like ITO.
According to Zhu, his invention could replace a huge portion of the screens on the market. "We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor," he commented in a press release. "The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen". Let's hope iCracked has a backup plan — although, as always, we'll believe this when we see it. [PhysOrg; University of Akron]