Polymer scientists at the University of Akron have developed a layer of transparent electrodes that is flexible, durable and, although unconfirmed, more efficient than modern touchscreen technology. If all you want are the CliffsNotes: this technology could eliminate the shattering of screens on your average smartphone.
In their recently published scientific paper on the process and material, Dr. Yu Zhu and his team, mostly students, explain the details of their transparent electrodes. The resulting layer of electrodes offers the same transparency as the indium tin oxide (ITO) layer that is used on most current smartphones. In addition, the new material is flexible and offers greater electrical conductivity.
Traditional ITO screen technology is fairly brittle and expensive, both of which are things you learned the hard way if you have ever dropped or sat on your phone. The novel film created of the new transparent electrodes manages to retain its shape and functionality in tests of up to 1000 bends. Not only that, but they say it can be economically fabricated in mass-quantity rolls.“The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen,” says Zhu.
We like the sound of all this, but we are reminded of another device that offers flexibility, plus a curved design, the LG G Flex. Do you remember the G Flex drop test from last fall? I don’t want to spoil it, but it didn’t do as well as hoped, requiring a replacement to its cracked display.
With the information at hand, we cannot say how well the new novel film of transparent electrodes will compare to the G Flex, or other flexible displays out there, but it sounds like Zhu and team are eager to get it to market. One thing is for sure, quality competition to any materials manufacturer can only be good for us consumers. If this material can actually make for less expensive and shatterproof screens, count me in.
Have you ever had a cracked display, or would you call this is a solution to an uncommon problem?