June 7, 2014
Smartphones May One Day Be Shatterproof
Gerard LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
A study by Dr. Yu Zhu, UA assistant professor of polymer science, UA graduate students Tianda He and Aozhen Xia and professor of polymer science at UA Darrel Reneker, demonstrated how a transparent layer of electrodes on a polymer surface is tough and flexible.
The study, which was recently published the journal ACS Nano, involved repeated scotch tape peeling and bending tests. According to Zhu, this could revolutionize and replace touch screens. Current screens are made up of indium tin oxide (ITO), which are more brittle and prone to shattering, and are becoming more costly to manufacture.
“These two pronounced factors drive the need to substitute ITO with a cost-effective and flexible conductive transparent film. We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor. The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touch screen,” Zhu said.
The new film provides the same transparency as existing screens, but also offers better conductivity. It also retains its shape and functionality after being bent 1,000 times. The researchers also believe this new technology can be produced both in mass-quantity and economically.