Flexible polymer smartphone display unveiled

Researchers at the University of Akron have developed a technology to prevent smartphone screens shattering.

The touchscreen technology makes use of a transparent layer of electrodes on a polymer surface, making the display flexible and shatter-proof.

Another benefit of the new polymer touchscreen is that it's cheaper to produce in comparison to standard touchscreen technologies and will be available in huge rolls for manufacturers to use. It also offers the same transparency with better conductivity, making it more responsive to touch.

The researchers tested the film by bending it more than 1,000 times and performing repeated scotch tape peelings that demonstrate whether a coating will easily detach from the screen. Both tests were completed successful, with no damage or warping occurring.

Current smartphone touchscreen displays use indium tin oxide (ITO) as their basis for the electrodes and although the material has high levels of transparency, it's more likely to shatter and has no flexibility at all.

Assistant professor of polymer science at Akron University Yu Zhu, said: "We expect this film to emerge on the market as a true ITO competitor. The annoying problem of cracked smartphone screens may be solved once and for all with this flexible touchscreen."

Although not yet in production, there's likely to be some interest from smartphone manufacturers including LG, Samsung and Apple who are rumoured to be introducing flexible displays on future devices.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.