Scientists at the University of Sussex have created a new touchscreen that could consign the days of smashed and cracked smartphone displays to history.
The university says the ultra-tough display is made from graphene - a form of carbon just one atom thick - and silver “nanowires”.
This creates a “film” that matches the performance of regular screens, says The Daily Telegraph, but that is significantly cheaper to produce than current displays.
Most smartphone touchscreens feature a layer of indium tin oxide that helps register touch inputs, says New Atlas. This material is “great for its transparency and conductivity”, the site says, but is also “relatively rare” and “fragile”.
The material developed by Sussex University is not only “more responsive” than a conventional touchscreen, the site adds, but can also “flex and bend”.
The technology could make its way onto consumer devices in the near future, says project chief Professor Alan Dalton.
“It would be relatively simple to combine silver nanowires and graphene in this way on a large scale using spraying machines and patterned rollers”, he says. That means brittle mobile phone screens might soon be “a thing of the past”, Dalton adds.
The project’s head of research, Matthew Large, says the new screen could also pave the way for flexible smartphones.
“When we bend the hybrid films repeatedly, the electrical properties don’t change,” he says, “whereas you see a drift in the films without graphene that people have developed previously. This paves the way towards one day developing completely flexible devices.”