Have you ever been misfortunate or clumsy enough to drop your phone, leaving a spiderweb of cracks that, at best, serves as an embarrassing conversation starter or, at worst, turns your phone into an expensive paperweight? Within five years, our smartphones could all hold the technology to self-repair cracks completely on their own.
Duncan Wass, professor at the University at Bristol, has been at the forefront of developing a carbon-based “healing agent” that is hoped to have multiple applications, most notable for consumers being saving our phones from ourselves. Microspheres containing these healing chemicals are designed to burst when cracked, releasing the solution, which hardens instantly and almost invisibly. Initially, this compound was designed solely for aviation applications, so that airplane wings that develop small cracks can begin the healing process midair. This will be the main focus moving forward, ensuring quicker and cheaper safety controls.
This idea is a game-changer for all sorts of different industries, however. While carbon-based solutions have been used for performance and Formula One cars for some years, L’Oreal is considering using it to develop a self-repairing nail polish and there is chatter of using it to improve sports equipment, such as bike frames. This technology is moving quickly, but, for now, all the butter-fingers out there should still try and keep it together.