Imagine plastic that gets stronger when stressed, drop-proof devices here we come!

Imagine plastic that gets stronger when stressed, drop-proof devices here we come!
Without getting into a whole lot of chemistry, some talented minds at Duke University have formulated a new type of plastic that gets stronger under increased levels of stress. This feature is owed to a carefully designed molecular structure to this new material.

This plastic retains the characteristics found in all plastics, but the researchers able to find a way that allowed a molecule called carboxylate to cross-link across chains of molecules in the plastic under stress. The result is the plastic can react to physical force, making it stronger as stresses increase.

This reaction to a “mechanical force” leads this discovery to be called a “mechanophore.” The researchers tested this mechanophore by creating this plastic and feeding it through an extruder. They then measured structural reactions on a microscopic level through a technique called nanoindentation. The hardness of the mechanophore increased by 200 times after the extrusion process.


The team at Duke is continuing its research, but the applications are far reaching, not the least of which is a tough, without being overly stiff, plastic that could be used on our handy smartphones. Just imaging the drop tests we could come up with!

source: ExtremeTech

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15 Comments

1. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Plastic fantastic.

2. Kishin

Posts: 706; Member since: May 30, 2013

Nice Cause my iphone dropped a few times and i get angry

3. imkyle

Posts: 1114; Member since: Nov 18, 2010

I want the Nokia Morph Concept phone to be real. That was the best phone concept.

4. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

Of course smartphones are the first thing we think of. Not automobiles, planes, body armor, spacecraft, boats, bike helmets, body casts, and of course the most important: video game controllers; cuz there are plenty of frustrating games.

12. Igneel

Posts: 19; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

This is PHONEarena, that's why smartphones are the first think they'd thought of.

5. estreito

Posts: 15; Member since: May 11, 2012

(sarcasm) but everyone wants an aluminium phone...

6. TechDork

Posts: 402; Member since: May 10, 2010

DUKE UNIVERSITY?!! GO NC!!! :D That's where I live :) Lol.

7. DukeX

Posts: 327; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

Thanks to me plastic prevails once again

8. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

Just as long as it's not glossy, I'll welcome it.

9. xperia1409

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

Samsung will be the most happy one on this research -_-

10. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1245; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Its not the plastic we're worried about when dropping our phones. It's the glass screen that shatters from a 3 foot drop that has us stressed.

13. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I've often wondered why they don't use a high grade clear plastic for screens. That would all but eliminate shattered screens from dropping. I'm sure there's a reason because I'd imagine any plastic would be cheaper than the glass they use.

15. lukasound

Posts: 152; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

exactly! it's not profitable. why do you think Samsung's plastic ridges around the screen are getting smaller and smaller? they may be marketing it as Gorilla glass 2, or 3, but it's easier to brake than Gorilla glass 1. they make a ton of money on replacement screens.

11. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

This could possibly be used on ships sent in space.

14. Genersis

Posts: 219; Member since: May 29, 2013

Just like Metatron. Cool. :P

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