BOFFINS AT Queen's University in Belfast claim to have invented a 'miracle material' that could put an end to smashed smartphone displays.
This breakthrough, which is good news for anyone who has been forced to cough up £80 after their smartphone dropped onto the carpet and subsequently shattered, arrives in the form of a combination of semiconducting molecules known as C60 with graphene and hBN.
The researchers, working with Stanford University and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan, found that combining these materials could produce a unique material technology, which they claim could "revolutionise the concept of smart devices."
As well as proving tougher than silicon, typically used in today's smartphones, the combination could help devices to use less energy, resulting in a longer-lasting battery.
The boffins explain that hBN provides stability, electronic compatibility and isolation charge to graphene, while C60 can transform sunlight into electricity.
Dr Elton Santos, from the university's School of Mathematics and Physics, explains: "Our findings show that this new 'miracle material' has similar physical properties to silicon but it has improved chemical stability, lightness and flexibility, which could potentially be used in smart devices and would be much less likely to break.
"The material also could mean that devices use less energy than before because of the device architecture so could have improved battery life and less electric shocks.
"By bringing together scientists from across the globe with expertise in chemistry, physics and materials science we were able to work together and use simulations to predict how all of the materials could function when combined - and ultimately how these could work to help solve everyday problems."
There's one problem with the combination, though, as graphene is still lacking a 'band gap', which the researchers explain is key to the on-off switching functionality of devices.
However, Dr Santos' team is looking at a potential solution in the form of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), which are chemically stable, have large sources for production and band gaps that rival silicon. µ
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