Nokia Research working on a Superhydrophobic coating for their phones

Nokia is working on a superhydrophobic coating for their phones inspired by the nano-technology found in lotus leaves.

Chris Bower, the Principal Scientist at the NRC in Cambridge, explains:

“Like many scientists we are trying to copy what nature has been doing perfectly for thousands of years.”

“A hydrophobic coating – like Teflon – has a low surface energy and a high contact angle of 120 deg, which makes water form discrete droplets on the surface.”

He goes on to explain that Superhydrophobic coatings have a contact angle that can approach 180 degrees – and the liquid forms discrete drops that literally bounce off the surface:

“The difference is the nano-structured coating, trapping air at the interface, that makes sure the liquid never actually touches the surface.”

The Team at the NRC in Cambridge have set up a demonstration of a Nokia Lumia 710 which has been treated with a Superhydrophobic coating made in their labs.

The difference between Nokia’s coatings and others on the market is that Nokia’s version is meant for the outside of phones, where they have to be resistant to wear and tear.

“The biggest challenge is making nanostructures robust enough to withstand every day wear and tear. You could put a superhydrophobic coating inside a device now because people can’t degrade it, it can’t get knocked around in your pocket. To put it on the outside is much, much tougher. But you want it on the outside because that’s where you see the effects of keeping your phone really clean.”

The team at the Nokia NRC in Cambridge are “pretty close”, he says, to perfecting a robust exterior Superhydrophobic coating.

Read more at Nokia Conversations here.

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