Composite metal-organic framework glass makes unbreakable smartphone screens

Smartphones have been part of our everyday life. Without them, many people’s life will be adversely impacted. We may have been afraid of shattering the glass screen of their smartphone when it slips off our hands. When seeing the broken screen, we would hope it were made of unbreakable material.  The dream is coming close to reality. A paper published on Science on October 29, 2021 reported a new composite material, lead halide perovskite, which has not only great optoelectronic characteristics, but also show excellent mechanical properties. According to professor Lianzhou Wang, one of the leads of the research team from the University of Queensland St. Lucia, the glass made of the new composite material demonstrates outstanding mechanical properties in microscopic domain, which is not shown in traditional glass made of inorganic materials. The new material has high-ratio porous structure that possesses resilience on microscopic level, thus greatly reduces the intent of cracking under stress and this is the secret for why the screen made of this new glass will not break easily.

A smartphone with a cracked glass screen (Courtesy of Getty Images)
Stability and optical performance of the new lead halide perovskite composites (Courtesy of Science, Jingwei Hou et. al.)

In the report, the mechanical properties of the new material have been preliminarily tested in experiments. Through a test called nanoindentation, the composite glass that consists of perovskite nanocrystals was proved to have greatly improved Young’s modulus and hardness, which confirms the excellent performance of the composite material’s interfacial interactions. The new material has shown high compatibility that provide promise for further improvement of the composite glass.

The studies of this type of composite materials demonstrate bright prospects of applications, such as smartphones, hand-held devices, TVs, laptops, and vehicle windshield, etc.


Hou J, Chen P, Shukla A, Krajnc A, Wang T, Li X, Doasa R, Tizei LHG, Chan B, Johnstone DN, Lin R, Schülli TU, Martens I, Appadoo D, Ari MS, Wang Z, Wei T, Lo SC, Lu M, Li S, Namdas EB, Mali G, Cheetham AK, Collins SM, Chen V, Wang L, Bennett TD. Liquid-phase sintering of lead halide perovskites and metal-organic framework glasses. Science. 2021 Oct 29;374(6567):621-625. doi: 10.1126/science.abf4460. Epub 2021 Oct 28. PMID: 34709926.


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