World

Japanese chemist’s self-repairing glass a breakthrough

TOKYO: A Japanese researcher has developed - by accident - a new type of glass that can be repaired simply by pressing it back together after it cracks.

The discovery opens the way for super-durable glass that could triple the lifespan of everyday products such as car windows and fish tanks.

University of Tokyo chemistry researcher Yu Yanagisawa made the breakthrough while investigating adhesives that can be used on wet surfaces.

His discovery does not mean that anyone can simply repair cracks on a screen with a quick press.

It does, however, open a window of opportunity for researchers to explore ways to make more durable, lightweight and glass-like items.

In a lab demonstration, Mr Yanagisawa broke a glass sample into two pieces. He then held the cross sections of the two pieces together for about 30 seconds until the glass repaired itself, almost resembling its original form.

To demonstrate its strength, he then hung a nearly full bottle of water from the piece of glass - and it stayed intact.

The organic glass, made of a substance called polyether thioureas, is closer to acrylic than mineral glass, which is used for smartphone screens.

But can it really lead to a self-healing smartphone screen?

Mr Yanagisawa said: "It is not realistically about fixing what is broken, more about making longer-lasting resin glass."
 - AFP

WORLD