Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Toray’s touchscreen film self-repairs a scratch in 10 seconds

The issue of carrying around mobile devices with large, brittle glass displays was solved when Gorilla Glass came on the scene. But those shiny touchscreens are still prone to picking up the odd scratch while nestled in your pocket.
You can put a screen protector over the top to help prevent them, but then if the protector gets damaged they need replacing. However, Japanese company Toray believes it has a solution in the form of a self-repairing film.
The film actually isn’t that new. Toray has been offering it as a decorative solution for applying to laptop casing and other larger devices. Until now it hasn’t been considered for actual screens, but with a move to mass production and a few properties that make it suitable, self-repairing touchscreen film is on its way to market.
At room temperature the film is capable of repairing minor scratches in as little as 10 seconds. At the same time it is very flexible, meaning it won’t crack or peel, and allows 90% of light to pass through it making it suitable for placing over a bright display. As for how long it lasts, Toray’s tests have shown no degradation in performance after 20,000 scratch repairs.
The film will be on display next week at the Highly-functional Film Technology Expo in Tokyo. Hopefully we’ll get to see video footage of a 10-second scratch repair during the show as well as finding out just how much of an impact the film has when attached to a smartphone or tablet.
Toray has another film in the works that solves a different problem for touchscreens: that of fingerprints. By employing a surface that is wrinkled at the nanometer level and coated with oil-repellent material, the company has managed to significantly reduce the marks fingers leave on a display. If only they could combine the self-repair and fingerprint repellent films they’d have device manufacturers and consumers falling over each other to place orders.


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