A new material may soon turn cracked smartphone screens into nothing more than an unpleasant memory.
Here's something that you may not know about smartphones: they are quite costly to make. Several parts of smartphones and tablets are made of silicone and other materials. The problem with these materials is that even though they're quite expensive, they aren't all that durable. As smart handheld devices become more and more ubiquitous, manufacturers are looking for better materials to use.
Cracked screens may not spell the end of the world, but they can pretty annoying and inconvenient. Plus, a cracked screen can render expensive devices difficult or near-impossible to use. There have been other studies that seek to find a way to make cracked smartphone screens history. In one study, researchers created a self-healing material that can create indestructible smartphones. In another study, foldable and flexible screens may also become reality.
This material, however, is different from the other two above. Of course, the goals are the same. All these new materials aim to make smart devices lighter, more durable, and cheaper to manufacture. A team of scientists from top universities aim to create devices made of cheap but durable materials.
The team combined semiconducting molecules C60 with graphene, hBN, and other layered materials. It turned to be a quite a good combination. C60, for example, can convert sunlight to electricity. HBN, meanwhile, stabilizes graphene as well as provides electronic compatibility. A process called “van der Waals solids” enables these materials to come together and brings out features that don't naturally exist in the materials.
Dr. Elton Santos, lead researcher, predicted that the combination of materials will create a new material with remarkable properties. He said that the results of the experiments surprisingly matched with his predictions. Thus, he called the study a sort of “dream project”, since his theoretical projections matched actual results.
Durability and cheapness aren't the only things that this new material can offer. There's a possibility that smart devices will become more energy efficient because of the new material. Thus, not only is it possible to make cracked smartphone screens a thing of the past, it's also possible to improve the devices themselves.
This new material seems to be quite good, but there's still room for improvement. For example, the material is missing a feature that allows devices to turn on and off. This missing feature is a band gap, which the new material's architecture lacks.
Fortunately, Santos and his team have already found a possible solution to this problem. They are looking at using transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), another material that can bump silicon off. TMDs are chemically stable, quite common, and can produce band gaps. Being common makes a material easier to obtain and thus cheaper, which makes TMDs a good candidate.
There have been a few efforts to make sure that we won't have to worry about cracked smartphone screens anymore. With all these possibilities, we may soon have cheaper, more durable, and more energy efficient devices.
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