Two portions of broken glass made from a new semitransparent polymer merge together after being compressed for several hours at normal temperature. (Provided by the University of Tokyo)

The days of broken glass being patched up with glue or simply tossed away may soon be over.

Glass made from a new semitransparent polymer developed by Japanese researchers can easily be repaired by compressing the fractured portions for several hours at normal temperature.

Hydrogen bonds in the polyether thioureas act as a natural adhesive.

A team that includes Takuzo Aida, a professor of supermolecular chemistry at the University of Tokyo, published its finding in the U.S. journal Science on Dec. 14.

As glass, once broken, is generally of no further use, it can only be recycled through heating at high temperature. This is because the molecular bonding that gives the material its strength breaks down once a fracture occurs.

The team found that broken pieces of the polymer naturally bonded if they were compressed for between one and six hours. The material also kept its strength.

Yu Yanagisawa, a member of the University of Tokyo's department of chemistry and biotechnology, called the research finding significant.