The material is a transparent polymer which has high strength. This has similarly good self-healing abilities, as you already know from some soft materials that are more comparable to rubber. So far, hard substances have only been able to eliminate cracks by properly heating the area and melting the plastic.
The material described can be repaired completely at normal room temperatures. All that is needed is some pressure – it should be sufficient if, for example, a disyplay cover is pressed together with the fingers. This emerges from the publication of the researchers, published in the prestigious Journal Science.
Student wanted to make glue
The new polymer glass was discovered more by accident than a student actually wanted to test a material as a new adhesive. When he held two cut edges together, they also clung to each other as the young researcher had hoped. When he then squeezed the two parts together for half a minute, they did not just stick together. The previously visible separating edge had also largely disappeared.
Further testing revealed that after a few hours, the material had completely recombined into a continuous fabric that looked as if it had never been separated. The researchers are now hoping to bring the material on a track from which it could serve, for example, as a display cover on smartphones. This could serve as a huge reduction in waste from the field given the frequency of broken screens.