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Self-Healing Smart Coating Could Make Self-Repairing Cell Phone Displays a Reality

Scratches and cracks on smartphone displays are almost inevitable, given how ubiquitous the devices are––and how frequently we use them.

But a new self-healing smart coating could make those dings and cracks a thing of the past. The American Chemical Society says the smart coating is as hard as tooth enamel on the outside but has self-healing properties like skin.

A paper from researchers at the Key Laboratory of Microsystems and Micronanostructures Manufacturing at the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and the Center for Composite Materials and Structures at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Shenzhen, China, details the properties of the coating in the society’s Jan. 31, 2018, edition of its ACS Nano journal.

“The smart coating market is a booming industry and is only expected to grow in upcoming years,” says a statement from the ACS. “The most common smart coatings that can health themselves are based on soft polymers that can wear out quickly. But hard coatings can be too rigid to come back together to fix a tear or scratch. In previous research, Ming Yang and colleagues produced a stiffer, more healable coating, but its performance still needs to be optimized. In the current paper, the researchers developed a different way to make a soft, yet hard, self-healing material.”

The coating mimics the structure of human skin. Researchers used a layer-by-layer technique to form a soft under layer comprised of polyvinyl alcohol and tannic acid. The hard, external layer contains these compounds as well as a layer of graphene oxide. When fabricated at a certain thickness, the material successfully healed itself when cut. It could also kill bacteria.

The researchers hope that the coating could serve as an electronic skin or as a scratch-proof coating for phones or buildings.

 

» Publication Date: 31/01/2018

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [609149].

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