Copper nanowire coating to make smartphone screens shatterproof

Copper nanowire coating to make smartphone screens shatterproof

A transparent layer of electrodes on a polymer surface could be extraordinarily tough and flexible, providing for a shatterproof smartphone touchscreen.

Scientists at Ohio's University of Akron may have cracked one of the biggest challenges smartphone owners face — keeping the screen in one piece.

The team, led by Dr Yu Zhu, an assistant professor of polymer science, has developed an unbreakable touchscreen film comprised of a network of linked copper nanowires. The coating is said to be as transparent as the current one used by phone and tablets manufacturers, but stronger and more conductive.

According to the researchers, the new material can be bent more than 1,000 times without breaking, it also doesn't peel and would be cheaper to produce than the available touchscreens on the market.

Other nanowire-based electrode coatings have also previously been created. According to the university, however, those fall behind Zhu's approach when it comes to adhesion, smoothness, and/or conductivity.

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

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal ACS Nano.

Image courtesy of University of Akron.