No More Broken Phone Screens: New See-Through Film Stronger than Aluminum

Thanks to a new transparent polythene film, shattered phone screens "could be a thing of the past," according to Ton Peijs, professor at the University of Warwick.

Peijs and research partner Cees Bastiaansen, a professor at Queen Mary University of London, developed a new technique for creating the see-through film.

Material engineers have developed impressive high-strength films, including the hot-drawing of high-density polyethylene, HDPE. While these films can compete with the strength of industrial materials, including metals, they're not very transparent, making them poor replacements for glass.

"The microstructure of polymers before drawing very much resembles that of a bowl of cooked spaghetti or noodles, while after stretching or drawing the molecules become aligned in a way similar to that of uncooked spaghetti, meaning that they can carry more load," Yunyin Lin, a PhD student with Peijs and Bastiaansen, said in a news release.

Tests showed the resulting films were 10 times stronger than conventional see-through films. The new transparent polythene film boosted a great maximum tensile strength to that of space grade aluminum. The films are extremely light in weight, making them ideal for uses in small electronics and as an added coating on windshields.

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