Self Healing Material – Possible Smartphone Screens?

The University of California Riverside (UCR) has developed a material that has not only self healing properties, but is also creating a force under an applied voltage (artificial muscles) and is highly transparent and electrically conductive. What in that does a display guy not like? Well the artificial muscle thing may be not so important (other than that the whole display could vibrate), but the other three are pretty unique properties. While we have transparent conductors, the self healing is of course a property that would be great for just about any consumer electronics product and whole lot of other products as well.

The original publication goes back to December of 2016, but the potential application in a smartphone display screen brought it back to life during recent weeks. UCR has also released a video on YouTube, that calls the material ‘Wolverine’ inspired, based on the fact that it heals itself without any outside intervention. The first image demonstrates this property on an actual sample and the second image shows how this works.

Source:; A Transparent, Self-Healing, Highly Stretchable Ionic Conductor

Self Healing Polymer BasicsSource:, A Transparent, Self-Healing, Highly Stretchable Ionic Conductor

As you can see from the image, after the material is cut and a voltage is applied it pulls itself apart. Leaving the material with the cut alone for 24h and apply the voltage again, shows that it has healed and does not pull apart any more. Pretty impressive and certainly faster than the healing properties of human skin.

The second image explains how this works. A specially formulated polymer uses ion – dipole interaction to force the separated parts together again. The trick is that the ion – dipole forces are extremely high and about twice as high as the binding energy between the oligomers. This is a very intriguing concept for a wide array of applications. If you want to learn more about, you can find the article at

The material is at this point in time only in the proof of concept stage and it will take a good amount of material development to identify the best material that ticks all the boxes in the properties requirements list. I hope they find a solution and if it isn’t working for smartphone display screens, there are plenty of other applications that can benefit from self healing properties. (NH)