Japanese researchers say they have developed a new type of glass that can heal itself from cracks and breaks. Glass made from a low weight polymer called “polyether-thioureas” can heal breaks when pressed together by hand without the need for high heat to melt the material.
The research, published in Science, by researchers from the University of Tokyo, promises healable glass that could potentially be used in phone screens and other fragile devices. The properties of the polyether-thioureas glass were discovered by accident by graduate school student Yu Yanagisawa, who was preparing the material as a glue. Yanagisawa found that when the surface of the polymer was cut the edges would adhere to each other, healing to form a strong sheet after being manually compressed for 30 seconds at 21°C.
Further experimentation found that the healed material regained its original strength after a couple of hours. (The Guardian, December 18, 2017,https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/18/smashed-cracked- phone-screen-self-healing-glass-university-of-tokyo)