Your parents have bought you an iPhone X for your birthday. The shiny $1,000 phone rests on top of your desk sans case as you work on your homework. Your mom calls you for dinner and you go to grab your phone, only to feel the edge slide off your desk and fall towards its demise. Your heart drops, and you check the screen to see that your brand new, shiny $1,000 phone has cracked.
The biggest fear for anyone with a phone, regardless of age, is their phone cracking or breaking down. Many scientists and researchers are in the process of developing a new method for creating a phone screen that will be able to “self-heal”. This revolutionary idea has been in the works for a long time, but the idea was first thought of by a researcher, Dr. Chao Wang, who happened to be a fan of Wolverine. Dr. Wang claims that his amazement with Wolverine’s ability to self-heal led to the development of a self-healing lithium battery. This battery would allow the phone to fix itself and last much longer if it was to take any damage or force. Although the development of a self-healing screen is still in progress, the LG model G Flex 2 has a self-healing back that repairs any minor scratches on the back of the phone. Unlike the back of a phone, the screen is much more complex as it relies on a grid of electrodes, which is a conductor in which electricity enters or leaves through, to function. When a human finger touches a phone screen, an electrical charge travels throughout the grid in order to complete the circuit and allow the user to complete his/her task.
In order to overcome this obstacle, Dr. Wang and his team focused on coming up with different chemical bonds that would be suitable. More specifically, she turned her attention to ion-dipole interactions. These polar interactions are intermolecular forces between fully charged ions and partially charged molecules. To experiment with this interaction, the team used salt ions and polymers and stretched it beyond its actual size. Once they stretched the polymer, they cut it in half to see the bonds between the ions and polymer molecules realign back to their original configuration. In order to count for the conductivity of the screen, the researchers created an artificial muscle, which is a non-conductive membrane that is placed in between the newly created material. This concept is like the parts of the body and how the muscles react to signals that are sent from the brain.
The newly created material has been presented to multiple different research companies and the scientific community. This revolutionary method may be the start of an era in which hearts are not broken, more money is saved, and there is less cracking of smartphones.