There is surely no one who hasn't experience the horror of a cracked phone screen: you drop your beloved device on the ground, hear the gut-renching sound of shattered glass, subsequently picking the item up to confirm your very worst fears.

You have two options: grin and bear and attempt to operate it through smashed glass – or cough up the €100-odd required to fix it.

Neither, needless to say, are ideal.

However, now Japanese scientists say they've come up with an innovative, light-weight aluminium that could signal the end of broken phone screens.

The material is so strong it rivals some metals – including iron, copper and stainless steel – and it can also be used to create super slim smartphone covers. 

Dr Atsunobu Masuno, from the Institute Of Industrial Science at the University Of Tokyo who led the research, told the Asahi Shinbun newspaper: "We will establish a way to mass-produce the new material shortly.

"We are looking to commercialise the technique within five years."

Previous attempts to use alumina in glass have been unsuccessful as it tends to crystallise when it touches the sides of a container.