The same technology that is being developed for self-repairing airplane wings may be used in smartphones.
Cracked smartphone screens have become one of the most expensive and frustrating annoyances associated with mobile technology, but a new type of self-healing tech that was designed for airplane wings could soon be used to repair consumer electronics, as well.
Researchers have been looking into using this type of technology for applications outside of airplanes.
A team at the University of Bristol within the United Kingdom has come up with the self-healing mobile technology, which was designed for airplane wings, but that they believe will have wonderful uses outside of that specific market. Consumer electronics could greatly benefit from this type of tech, particularly when it comes to items such as smartphones and tablets, that all too frequently end up with cracks that cause them to be hard to use or render them completely useless.
The inspiration for this airplane and mobile technology repair design came from the human body, itself.
According to Professor Duncan Wass from the University of Bristol, “We took inspiration from the human body.” He added that “We’ve not evolved to withstand any damage – if we were like that we’d have a skin as thick as a rhinoceros – but if we do get damaged, we bleed, and it scabs and heals.” Therefore, they created something that functions in a similar way to that, only in a synthetic material. In this way, they have come up with “something that can heal itself,” he said.
The way that this innovative technology works is that it employs microspheres that are built right into the surfaces of airplane wings, smartphone screens, or a broad spectrum of different consumer electronics devices. These microspheres contain a type of carbon-based liquid chemical. Therefore, if the surface of the mobile device screen, for example, is broken, the liquid is released and runs into the cracks, rapidly hardening and sealing them.
This all occurs in a process that is nearly invisible to the naked eye, so that the damaged mobile technology will be able to hold onto its original use, which is impressive and highly useful for a device screen. In the case of an airplane wing, the mechanical strength is maintained, which can be a critical safety feature.