Dunk Your Cell Phone in Salt Water

It helps preserve medicine, prevent food from spoiling, and protect your cellphone from air or water damage. Using atom layer deposition, a group of researchers in Georgia have developed a new way to improve barrier films. Read the article on esciencenews.com here!

We’re not talking about plastic wrap or zip lock baggies here. High-end barrier films that safeguard your phone’s high-tech organic LED display from oxygen or water vapor require higher performance transparent materials like metal oxides.

However, using existing manufacturing methods, these high-performance barriers often have small defects, like tiny holes that let water and oxygen in, leading Samual Graham and his colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology to explore how to use atomic layer deposition to produce better barrier films.

Graham and his colleagues have created new barrier films that can protect electronics in very harsh environments — when submerged in salt water for months, for example.
“By creating such barrier films, we are able to extend the lifetime and reliability of electronic devices,” Graham said


Now, as someone who nearly loses her iPhone on a daily basis, drops it often, and sometimes can’t resist checking her twitter in the shower or running in the rain, well… this sounds promising! With atomic layer deposition, researchers have precise control down to the molecular level, allowing them to make thin, even films that have minimal defects.

I mean, I detest the sticky, thick, displeasing to touch films that are sold for protecting screens already. Thank you, chemistry; if it were not for the discovery of the atom, how would researchers be able to turn CO2 in CO, to create indestructible nanofilms, to protect my iPhone from water damage!?

Companies are already developing and selling atomic layer deposition technology, Graham says. But for wide-scale commercial use, more work needs to be done to improve the technology and the chemical stability and mechanical reliability of the films. Which means I’m going to actually have to wait a while before leaving my phone in the ocean for months. Doesn’t that just ruin my plans?

Happy Halloween!




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