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Mitsubishi makes first bio-based plastic smartphone screen

Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp. is commercializing the world's first bio-based plastic smartphone front panel screen, using Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.'s bio-based polycarbonate Durabio.

Tokyo-based Mitsubishi said in a July 6 news release that the screen will be in Sharp's new Aquos Crystal 2 smartphone, which will go on sale from Japan's Softbank Corp. starting in mid-July.

"The choice marks a world-first as bio-based engineering plastic has ever been used on the front panel of any smartphone," Mitsubishi said. "Most front panels of smartphones are made of glass, and their susceptibility to cracking has been an ongoing problem."

The material also overcomes some shortcomings of traditionally available plastics that smartphone makers have been studying as potential glass replacements, as those materials have a hard time having both good optical properties and resistance to cracking, Mitsubishi said. 

The company said Durabio is made from plant-derived isosorbide, which is made from glucose, as a comonomer replacing bisphenol A, and has higher resistance to heat, impact and weather than conventional engineering plastics.

The material is also used in interior and exterior auto components in Mazda and Suzuki vehicles, the company said.

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