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New Take on Self-Healing Polymer Could Mean Scratch-Free Screens

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the new-screen-just-add-sunlight dept.

Hardware 67

techprophet writes to mention that a new take on self-healing plastic could provide a long-term solution to scratched screens. The new polymer, developed by scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi, uses UV light to reform bonds between molecules rather than embedded healing agents of similar systems. "At the core of their design is polyurethane, which is an elastic polymer that already has decent scratch resistance. To enhance its ability to withstand mechanical damage, Ghosh and Urban added two more components, OXE and CHI. OXE has an unstable chemical structure (a four-membered ring containing three carbons and one oxygen) that makes it prone to being split open. CHI is UV sensitive. The idea is that, if the polyurethane gets damaged by a scratch, the unstable ring structure of OXE will open to create two reactive ends. Then, UV light can trigger CHI to form new links with the reactive ends of OXE and thereby fix the break in the polymer."

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"can trigger" (5, Funny)

notgm (1069012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185009)

it could trigger a healing process, or it could release noxious fumes, killing the user.

it's like a 70-30 chance, don't worry about it.

Re:"can trigger" (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185019)

That'll teach those terrorists to travel with their terrorist tote-bags!

Re:"can trigger" (2, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185145)

> That'll teach those terrorists to travel with their terrorist self-healing tote-bags!

Fixed it for yah.

Re:"can trigger" (3, Informative)

haystor (102186) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185463)

The people that touch monitor screens with their fingers are obviously in league with the terrorists.

Re:"can trigger" (1)

theillien (984847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186131)

The people that touch monitor screens with their fingers are obviously in league with the terrorists.

Them and the nail salons that glue three-inch long plastic spikes to the fingers of gum-chomping, nasally-voiced secretaries

Re:"can trigger" (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185171)

Get your new iPod touch 50g with latest screen healing!!!

*General surgeon warning: scratching the surface might result in death. Other less serious side effects may include "lung quake, facial corkboarding, eye-arrea, bearded thalamus, transsexual kidneys, rectal dyslexia, Flu-nami, Spontaneous Mertail, and Honey Nut Areolas".

Re:"can trigger" (4, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185775)

I've had rectal dyslexia and it was a bitch. However, the Honey Nut Areolas were quite enjoyable.

Re:"can trigger" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186789)

Don't you mean "I had rectal dyslexia and it was yttihs." ?

Re:"can trigger" (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189937)

You shamelessly stole that from the Colbert Report.

Yawn. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185011)

SUP DAWG? We herd you like news so we put old news in your news so you read the old news while you read the news!

How many times? (2, Interesting)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185017)

So can it only repair the bond once, since it splits open?

Re:How many times? (3, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185687)

From TFA:

this polymer system still needs some work before it can be released commercially. For example, the authors must figure out what happens if a second scratch occurs directly where a previous scratch was mended

It's a bit hard to believe they've never tried this though, just to see what happens. So, this comes down to "more funding plz"?

Re:How many times? (4, Insightful)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185857)

Seeing as the scratches the technology currently fixes are only a few micrometres in size, it's probably more an issue of it being extremely difficult to place another scratch at exactly the same place as a previously healed one.

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:How many times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189439)

A nanoindenter should have no problem.

--Mr DONTS

Re:How many times? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194445)

The impressions from a nanoindenter would not be visible to the naked eye.

Re:How many times? (2, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186439)

Perhaps. Each molecule can only participate in a repair once, but perhaps not all of them are consumed for a particular repair (leaving enough for another repair or 2).

Even if it is only once, depending on the cost it might still be worthwhile since a single scratch can render a screen painful to use (and this would solve that problem) and it's unlikely that every scratch will happen in exactly the same place. Even if the scratches intersect, having a bad spot on the screen would beat two long scratches.

It could potentially make the display last in good condition until after the device is obsolete or fails for an unrelated reason. Or at least make it look new for longer.

How big of a scratch? (3, Insightful)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185031)

im sure most people imagine large gashes closing themselves perfectly a-la movie style regeneration, but a little common sense says that is probably a bit beyond this techs capabilities. What size scratch can it really 'heal', and in what time frame?

Re:How big of a scratch? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185261)

RTFA. It displays pictures, showing it heal a 9.5 m sized scratch.

Re:How big of a scratch? (2, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185291)

Sorry, slashdot did not display the proper character. that is 9.5 micrometers (I tried to use Ansi character 181 in front of the m, the scientific notation for micrometers.) For further clarification, a human red blood cell is about 7 mirometers.

Re:How big of a scratch? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185299)

A 9.5 meter scratch? Somehow I'm just not seeing it.

Re:How big of a scratch? (-1, Redundant)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185323)

erm, don't you mean nano-meters? There's a bit of a difference between the two.

Re:How big of a scratch? (-1, Redundant)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185353)

erm, I meant, micrometres. Forgot the terminology.

Re:How big of a scratch? (2, Interesting)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185333)

9.5 micrometer, but how far does it go, is that as big as it can manage? How many of the noticeable scratches on the display of your favourite phone/mp3 player/laptop etc could be healed by this, i.e what is the typical size of a scratch in the real world

Re:How big of a scratch? (0, Redundant)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185351)

You have a screen that could stand a 9.5 meter wide scratch?

(Article says 9.5 micrometers)

Re:How big of a scratch? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185753)

9.5 meters?! wide!?! that would be awesome.

Re:How big of a scratch? (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185301)

Not just that, but what level of UV is taken to activate this? If you take something made of this substance out into a Texas summer day will it immediately lose all it's self healing capacity because all the CHI gets exposed and used?

Re:How big of a scratch? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186101)

It would be worse on a sunny Colorado Winter's day. You Texans are spoiled with all your fancy atmosphere.

-Peter

Re:How big of a scratch? (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185303)

If this is similar to other self healing paint technology I would assume that the scratch or chip from something like a small rock or someone keying your car (not too badly though) would heal. Also like other similar technology I would assume that the healed area would still show signs, but would look better than those tubes of touch up paint that claim to match the color of your car that never do. You would probably notice it as being an uneven area in the paint if you looked closely.

Re:How big of a scratch? (1)

xch13fx (1463819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186255)

I cant wait for my iphone to finally match my true personality...scarred and disfigured. Color cases just were never edgy enough for me...

Space!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185213)

This could be pretty sweet for satellites and space stations.

Re:Space!!! (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187189)

I'll be happy when the coat CDs and DVDs with the stuff.

skynet's just around the corner.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185281)

self healing synthetic materials?

great. One less weakness the robots will have during the uprising. Thanks.

Re:skynet's just around the corner.. (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185393)

They still won't know love. If movies have taught us anything. That is the only weakness they need.

Good publicity for my alma mater -- (4, Informative)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185297)

i also submitted this story this morning so since this made it i guess mine will be scrapped. because of this i can also give you a few links. This is great technology no doubt.

USM Main Website [usm.edu]

Scientific American [sciam.com] had a hit on this.

School of Polymers and High Performance Materials Link [usm.edu]

Marek W. Urban [usm.edu] is the principle chemist and researcher for the project and was the co-author of the findings and its current research publication in the journal Science.

Video of an actual test [fastcompany.com] after scratching a surface.

Sorry if i am a little excited but its nice to be personally linked to a university that is about 15 minutes from where you live.

Re:Good publicity for my alma mater -- (5, Funny)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185409)

Huh? This is Slashdot. Why do you assume it will be scrapped? Give it a few more hours.

Re:Good publicity for my alma mater -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186149)

This is Slashdot. Now I know where you live :)

Re:Good publicity for my alma mater -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189733)

This is Slashdot. I am gay.

Re:Good publicity for my alma mater -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27191003)

...and i am a Mac.

What about Glasses? (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185357)

Does anyone else think this technology could also serve well as self healing lenses for glasses?

What good is a scratch free screen if I can't see it through my scuffed eye-wear?

Re:What about Glasses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185611)

What good is a scratch free screen if I can't see it through my scuffed eye-wear?

Because I can still see it just fine.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185791)

I agree that it would be more useful on glasses than on a monitor... Still, it would only double the useful life of the lens since it can only heal once in any given location.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185881)

Still, it would only double the useful life of the lens since it can only heal once in any given location.

That would only be true if you use your glasses until the entire surface area is scratched.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190055)

Still, it would only double the useful life of the lens since it can only heal once in any given location.

That would only be true if you use your glasses until the entire surface area is scratched.

or if you only tolerate a single defect and usually get your scratches in the same area....

On a more practical turn, they're only healing razor thin scratches for now, I imagine one good drag across with a grain of sand would make an unhealable cut.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

MagicM (85041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185793)

It will work for glasses too, but you will have to stare directly at the sun for half an hour to remove scratches.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

RemyBR (1158435) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185801)

Or scratch-healing camera lenses (for both photography and video). It'd be a big plus having the front coating of an $1.5k+ lens with this, so you don't have to send it to repairs just because a minor scratch.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185969)

Except that any good filter had metal coatings, and I doubt this would be able to fix the coating as well.

For example, a Heilopan UV/protective filter [bhphotovideo.com] with SH-PMC coating has 16 layers of coatings on each side.

If you aren't going to use a fully multicoated filter, then you are degrading every picture taken with that $1.5K lens.

Re:What about Glasses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188373)

If you aren't going to use a fully multicoated filter, then you are degrading every picture taken with that $1.5K lens.

Oh please, spare the lecture. You know what takes even better pictures than a lens with a multicoated filter on the end? One with no filter at all.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189371)

Oh please, spare the lecture. You know what takes even better pictures than a lens with a multicoated filter on the end? One with no filter at all.

This is very true.

I only use protective filters on lenses that I can't easily replace (and then it is one of the Heilopans), the rest of my lenses only get protective filters when there is shit flying around that could easily damage the lens.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189545)

I always thought that higher end camera lenses were glass, which kind of falls out of this category.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

DrCode (95839) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186395)

Does sound plausible. But I also imagine it will be one of those ultra-expensive add-ons the optician will try to sell us.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189493)

That's the first thing I thought of. I am terrible with my glasses (developed bad habits early). Always putting them in my shirt pocket instead of their case (actually, do people actually use glasses cases?) After a while they get lots of minor scratches. You sort of get used to seeing through them (ignoring them), but it'd be nice if the plastic lenses could fix themselves and always be clear. Maybe the glasses would last a little longer.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194805)

Get glasses lenses instead of plastic and learn to friggin' take care of your glasses.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

jonlandrum (937349) | more than 5 years ago | (#27201955)

Glass isn't actually used for eyewear lenses anymore.

Re:What about Glasses? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27203139)

Right. The glass lenses on my face are a figment of my imagination.

my costume is made of (1)

spacefiddle (620205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185425)

UNSTABLE MOLECULES!

One healing cycle... (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185777)

The current tech is only good for one healing cycle, can't fix a scratch in the same place twice. Also, it needs fairly strong UV to activate, not likely in most geek-dens.

Standing in the lawn with my phone over my head. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185831)

I think this could catch on in more ways than one. Imagine it accidental scratches on ones iPod means you have to go outside and expose the device to the sun. We all know raising your arm and putting the object over your head increases the healing time by being closer to the son. We could indeed bring back the raising of the roof. Yes! I can't wait.

Re:Standing in the lawn with my phone over my head (1)

Ninnle Labs, LLC (1486095) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186071)

But then the world would be exposed to a legion of pasty nerds who haven't see natural light in years of living in their parent's basements. Ewwwwwww

Will it resist foreign matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185861)

What would happen if there was foreign matter ie. pocket lent on the screen while say exposed to sunlight?

RE: (1)

insnprsn (1202137) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185877)

"an unstable chemical structure" Can anyone say flubber

Self-Healing-Polymer-World is Unstable! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27187185)

Self-Healing-Polymer-World is Unstable!

A url ending in scratches.ars... On slashdot... (5, Insightful)

jmrust (872335) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187647)

Am I the only one that finds a url ending in scratches.ars friggen hilarious while perusing slashdot minutes before my Friday escape from the office?! :D

Another use for this: Solar panels? (3, Interesting)

Atheraal (710104) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188067)

Isn't one of the biggest weaknesses of current solar panels that they get scratched up over time, thus losing efficiency? Seems like a good match to me..

technology already exist for cars exterior paints (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189093)

A similar technology already exist for cars exterior paints: http://www.infinitiusa.com/ex/specs-options/ [infinitiusa.com] look for exterior tab, "Scratch Shield paint". The paint recovers from minor scratchs in a few days, automatically.

120W UV??? (1)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190701)

Can we say melanoma?

1) Deal with my stupidity, keep the scratch, or buy another device.
2) Use a number of cheap screen protectors I toss once destroyed.
3) Pay gobs of cash for the tech then risk melanoma to repair a scratch.

I don't know about you, but I'll take option 1 or 2 over number 3.

Two questions not answered.... (1)

EricTheO (973140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27190861)

.... what about this polymers clarity and resistance to any discoloring over time?

Materials Vaporware (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27193443)

This is awesome news. As was the last time some "self healing" material was announced. And the time before that. I'm sure the military probably has them, but when will they actually arrive in consumer products?

Will my flexible e-Ink display with batteries that wirelessly charge in five seconds by just laying it on top of a special surface also come with a self healing screen?

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