Say goodbye to shattered smartphone screens

(Oleksandr Berezko/shutterstock.com)

(Oleksandr Berezko/shutterstock.com)

Relaxnews

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

A group of researchers may have cracked one of the biggest problems that smartphone owners face -- keeping the screen in one piece.

A team at the University of Akron in Ohio, led by Dr Yu Zhu, an assistant professor of polymer science, has developed a polymer film covered in electrodes that can be applied to a phone's existing display without affecting its touchscreen performance yet making it essentially shatterproof.

Not only is the polymer both tough and flexible, it can withstand bending and scotch tape tests -- i.e., it stays in place and won't peel off -- and as such could be a serious competitor to existing solutions that use a coating of indium tin oxide (ITO) to protect the display.

"We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor," Zhu says. "The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen."

Best of all, the film should be simple and cost effective to produce unlike, for instance, sapphire glass, which is tough enough to withstand bullets but when used in a smartphone can attach a heavy premium to its price tag.

There is no indication when the solution might come to market, but for most consumers, whenever it is, it won't be soon enough.

According to U.S. insurance company Square Trade, a smartphone is 10-13 times more likely to be damaged accidentally than stolen.

The most common damage is a cracked or shattered screen and between 2007-2013, American Android handset-owning consumers spent a combined US$7.2 billion on smartphone repairs.


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