The colour LCD screens on cellphones and PDAs can get badly scratched in pockets stuffed with loose change and keys. And CDs and DVDs become unplayable in no time when children use them as indoor frisbees. Now a tough, transparent polymer coating developed by chemists in Japan is set to make scratched phone screens and scuffed discs a thing of the past.
In one of the most convincing technology demonstrations this reporter has witnessed, I was handed a CD, a wire-wool pan scourer and some permanent marker pens, and invited to scratch or mark the discs. Hard as I tried, I could not make a single mark on the disc with the scourer. And the ink simply wiped off.
The only person to have succeeded in damaging the disc had undertaken a determined attack with a Swiss army knife, according to TDK, the company that has developed the coating.
Two years ago TDK, a maker of tape and disc-based recording media, began developing what was initially a single-layer coating to make DVDs more resistant to scuffing. But the new coating is far tougher, and it is transparent to the full spectrum of visible light rather than just a DVD’s red laser, so it can also be used to protect the plastic surface of colour liquid crystal displays (LCDs).