Sunday, August 1, 2021
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Cracked smartphone screens may soon self-repair as Indian innovators make breakthrough


Today, our smartphones are super powerful but even more fragile as a slight mishandling can result in broken displays and can cost us thousands of bucks. Recently, a group of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur has published in the Science journal about a new finding. Researchers have discovered “self-healing crystalline material” that can reassemble fractured parts of glass to bring back the original form within milliseconds. Notably, this latest discovery is believed to be a revolutionary invention in the world of technology for the future.

“Wound healing in living tissue and bone has inspired many synthetic self-healing polymers, gels, and other soft materials in the last decade or so. However, replicating such repair in crystalline materials has remained a challenge as they are rigid and prevent diffusion of material into the damaged part due to dense and regularly arranged molecules in the, “read the statement released by the researchers.

How will the cracked smartphone screen self-repair? 

Recently, researchers from the Indian Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata joined hands with the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and demonstrated a self-healing crystalline material which when broken into pieces turned back into the original state within milliseconds.

The research was led by Professor C Malla Reddy and his team at Kolkata-based IISER. The discovery proved that instant self-repair of glasses of mobile phones or any gadgets is possible. The scientists stated that during the healing process, fractured pieces travel with a ‘honeybee wing-like motion’, which instantly develops a type of solid material with a polar arrangement in the crystalline state (positive end to negative end).

“Since the previous decade, tremendous research has been done to find self-healing property in the unnatural polymers, gels, and composites which are soft and amorphous in nature. Various strategies have been employed to mimic nature but almost all of them need at least one stimulus such as heat, light, solvent, or a chemical healing agent. And universally all materials fail when the broken parts fall apart’, said Professor Reddy.

The mechanism behind the self-repair of cracked smartphones

The mechanism involved in the self-repair of fractured glass is termed ‘Piezoelectricity’. During this repair process, mechanical energy gets automatically converted into electric energy and vice versa. According to studies published by scientists, piezoelectricity is a crucial element that is found in humans and animals and is largely responsible for self-heal in biomaterials. 

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The researchers said that they got inspiration from nature and explored the inherent piezoelectricity of crystalline materials and found self-healing properties. Another corresponding author of this paper stated that “It is long known that piezoelectricity plays a key role in initiating self-healing in mechanically wounded natural biomaterials, like bone and collagen. Hence, our discovery in organic materials may provide further insights into the complex natural materials”. 

Meanwhile, it is still unclear when the smartphones of this technology come into the market. However, sooner or later the world will need this type of breakthrough, and one day, it will be widely available for all.

IMAGE: UNSPLASH





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