Unbreakable phone screens are on the horizon

Monday, 01 November, 2021

Unbreakable phone screens are on the horizon

An international team of researchers, led by The University of Queensland (UQ), has unlocked the technology to produce next-generation composite glass for lighting LEDs and smartphone, television and computer screens — enabling the manufacture of glass screens that are not only unbreakable but also deliver crystal-clear image quality.

The team’s findings were published in the journal Science and co-led by UQ’s Dr Jingwei Hou, who said the discovery marks a huge step forward in perovskite nanocrystal technology. Previously, researchers were only able to produce this technology in the bone-dry atmosphere of a laboratory setting.

“The emitting materials are made from nanocrystals called lead halide perovskites,” he said.

“They can harvest sunlight and concert it into renewable electricity, playing a vital role in low-cost and high-efficiency new generation solar cells and many promising applications like lighting.

“Unfortunately, these nanocrystals are extremely sensitive to light, heat, air and water — even water vapour in our air would kill the current devices in a matter of minutes.”

Dr Hou explained that the team of chemical engineers and material scientists developed a process to wrap or bind the nanocrystals in porous glass. He explained, “This process is key to stabilising the materials, enhancing its efficiency and inhibits the toxic lead ions from leaching out from the materials.”

Dr Hou said the technology is scalable and opens the door for many applications. He noted that quantum dot light-emitting diode (QLED) screens are currently considered the top performer for image display and performance, but the new research will “enable us to improve on this nanocrystal technology by offering stunning picture quality and strength”.

Study co-leader Professor Vicky Chen, also from UQ, said the breakthrough is an exciting development.

“Not only can we make these nanocrystals more robust, but we can tune their opto-electronic properties with fantastic light emission efficiency and highly desirable white light LEDs,” Prof Chen said.

“This discovery opens up a new generation of nanocrystal–glass composites for energy conversion and catalysis.”

Image caption: Luminating composite glasses.

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