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Making smartphone screens indestructible

Bob Brown | June 16, 2014
University of Akron boasts of strong yet flexible technology that could be coming to a smartphone touchscreen near you

At the risk jinxing myself, I've got to be in the minority of people who have never broken a smartphone screen (Okay, okay, I did break a Kindle screen once, but Amazon practically replaced it for me almost before the device hit the floor, so I'm not counting that).

Sadly, my screen-saving genes were not passed along to my kids though. So news that researchers are banging away on shatterproof screen technology is very welcome.

University of Akron polymer scientists have developed transparent technology (no really though, it's there) that they claim could revolutionize relatively brittle touchscreens made from indium tin oxide. The researchers' layer of electrodes reside on a polymer surface that together is both tough and flexible, according to assistant professor Yu Zhu, assistant professor of polymer science. What's more, the flexibility to the film makes it easy to mass produce, which means it can be made cost effectively, he says.

"We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor," says Zhu, part of a team that has shared its results in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano. "The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen."

While it's encouraging that university researchers are focused on device screen improvements, they're certainly not alone. Apple has made a billion dollar bet on sapphire technology that is believed to be a key future component of its iDevices, and Gorilla Glass maker Corning keeps improving its product, with promising new anti-reflective technology slated to make its way to devices later this year.

Source: Network World


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