Researchers develop self-healing polymers for cracked cellphone screens

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 public domain
You're likely to have had a cracked screen at some point if you are like most cellphone owners.

This annoying problem can be difficult to deal with and costly to fix.

Two Concordia researchers are working with the Oh Research Group at the Faculty of Arts and Science to find ways to "self heal" your phone. Their research could also have wider implications.

The heat can be turned down

Twinkal Patel, Ph.D. Candidat (BSc 17), is the first author of the paper "Self Healing Reprocessable Triboelectric Nanogenerators Fabricated With Vitrimeric Poly(hindered Urea Networks)", published in ACS Nano.

Patel claims that this research is different from other similar work in the field because it focuses on temperature.

Our goal is to maintain the network's toughness while increasing the ability to heal scratches and damage. We aim to achieve complete healing of scratches at room temperature. This is what sets us apart from other researchers.

Save time and money

Through very simple synthetic pathways, the team was able to create self-healing networks of polymer networks. These materials showed excellent results at room temperatures.

Pothana Gandhi Nellepalli (Horn postdoctoral fellow at Horizon) says that these materials can be used to quickly repair cracks and damages due to their self-healing mechanism.

These materials are cost-effective and save time for consumers. They also extend the life of the material and reduce the environmental impact.

The Oh lab: Life in the Oh Lab

Patel quickly credits the Oh Research Group's success to John Oh, Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Nanobioscience at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

"Working here was a wonderful experience. She says she has met supportive and amazing people during her time at the lab.

"I am grateful for the guidance I received from my supervisor in publishing my first paper. It feels great to see all the hard work that I have put in be published.

What other uses can this technology make?

Patel says, "In the future I would like to utilize self-healing Polymer Networks for improving the battery lifespan of triboelectric Nanogenerators."

This technology allows a device store energy and convert it to electricity when repeated movements are applied. Think of LED lights activated by your passing.

"This technology could be used to prolong the life of cell phone batteries." We will soon be able walk to recharge them.

Learn more about how to power electronics with mechanical motion

Twinkal Patel et. al., Self-Healable Triboelectric Nanogenerators Made with Vitrimeric Poly(hindered Urea). Networks, ACS Nano (2020). Information from the Journal: ACS Nano Twinkal Patel et. al, Self-Healable Triboelectric Nanogenerators Fabricated With Vitrimeric Poly(hindered Urea). Networks, (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c03819