To make the touchscreen of your smartphone shatterproof, scientists have developed a transparent electrode that could change the face of smartphones, literally, by making their displays completely shatterproof.
Researchers from Ohio-based University of Akron have shown how a transparent layer of electrodes on a polymer surface could be extraordinarily tough and flexible, withstanding repeated scotch tape peeling and bending tests.
"This could revolutionise and replace conventional touchscreens," said Yu Zhu, an assistant professor of polymer science at the University of Akron.
Currently used coatings made of indium tin oxide (ITO) are more brittle, most likely to shatter and increasingly costly to manufacture.
"Our technology can substitute ITO with a cost-effective and flexible conductive transparent film," Zhu noted, adding that the new film provides the same degree of transparency as ITO yet offers greater conductivity.
The novel film retains its shape and functionality after tests in which it has been bent 1,000 times.
Due to its flexibility, the transparent electrode can be fabricated in economical, mass-quantity rolls.
"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 touchscreen," researchers emphasised.