Hasta la vista, metal: "Terminator Polymer" could be the ideal material for smartphonesAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Ah yes, the classic debate over what a phone should or shouldn't be made out of. We all have our own opinions about it, there is no right answer. As of right now, every material is about as dependable as the next. No matter what material you go with, you're probably going to run into similar problems. Plastic and glass crack, aluminum dents and chips - nothing is indestructible. It's essentially a game of pick your poison right now, but it might not be that way for long.
According to a recent report by UPI, Spanish scientists have created a new type of polymer plastic called "Terminator Polymer". The plastic is aptly named after the liquid metal T-1000 antagonist seen in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Although this material isn't metal by any means, this new polymer plastic does share some similar qualities with the T-1000: bendable, stretchy and shape-shifting. Sort of. Really it's just able to reshape itself through self-healing properties. No catalyst is required to re-bond the plastic to itself when it has been damaged. The article and video mention that all you have to do for the polymer to heal is to leave it at room temperature for about two hours. This results in the plastic "healing" itself to about 97% of what it lost. I mean, to me that's just downright impressive.
This new material can obviously be used to improve on a lot of things. Specifically the article mentions using it in things like "electrical components, cars and even houses", but I thought of a different problem that this plastic could potentially be able to fix, and that's giving phones more survivability.
I think smartphones are heading in a very new and strange direction as it is already. We've already discussed graphene and how it could not only improve smartphone displays, but also internal components like battery life and stronger radios. We've talked about Sapphire glass and how it's both strong and clear. We learned that Samsung may be expanding the amount of memory in our smartphones by tenfold somewhat soon. And now we have this new type of material that, in my eyes, might just be the perfect solution for that ever-present issue of what material is the best material.
I mean, without a doubt, plastic or not this material would be the best of the best if it simply just fixes itself without any special conditions other than waiting for something a time frame as short as two hours. No more trips to the retail store, no arguing with companies about warranties or whether your insurance should charge a deductible or not. You just set it down and let it chill out for a couple of hours, and you're almost entirely golden afterward. No more, "Ew, look at these unsightly scratches on my aluminum phone," or "Oh no, the glass on the back of my device started webbing again." Just the sweet sound of, "Aw, man. I cut my phone with scissors again. It's cool. I'll just leave it here for a bit and it'll be good when I come back." I'm not sure who cuts their phone with scissors, especially a second time, but I'm sure somebody somewhere could have used Terminator Polymer to avoid any scissor induced mishaps with their phone.
With the invention of Terminator Polymer, and combined with all other discoveries and creations that can improve our smartphones, I suspect it won't be long before the device we're holding in our hands look about as high-tech as one of these babies:
Readers, what do you think about Terminator plastic? Would you buy a phone that used this material for your smartphone's housing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Images via Core77