Smartphones that can be bent could be eventually released next year based on a new "flexible hard-coating" technology developed by researchers at KAIST university.
Professor Bae Byeong-soo of KAIST's New Material Engineering Department has developed a flexible hard-coating material that can make foldable Smartphone's cover film easily bent while remaining scratch resistant.
Smartphones typically have a protective glass on the top of their displays. This glass substrate offers protection and transparency. On the other hand, it cannot be bent and can easily break.
Plastic films such as transparent polyimides are seen as glass alternatives. They are transparent like glass, they are highly durable and they do not damage even when they bent. The new material that was developed by Professor Bae is further adding glass-like hardness to these plastic films.
The new hard-coating material is a mix of silica glass, silicon rubber and has a plastic molecule structure.
"We confirmed that siloxane hybrid material has high solidity like glass, flexibility like plastic, and elasticity like rubber through nano-coining test and nano-bending test." said Professor Bae. "Based on in-folding display that folds screen inward, this material has hardness of 9H and can be folded more than 200,000 times with a radius of under 1mm."
This material can also be used for out-folding displays - screems that bend outwards.
Samsung Electronics, Samsung Display, LG Electronics, LG Display, Apple, Microsoft, and LENOVO are all working to develop foldable products.