New Coating Keeps Your Smartphone from Drowning

by Gabriela Jugaru

Dice's Guest AppearanceDropping your smartphone into the water, spilling your coffee on it or worse yet, having to fish it out of the toilet bowl happens on a regular basis. For the people that own them it can mean the end of the world, especially if you’re one of those who carries your life around on it.

As some people would rather cut off their leg (not really) than part with their smartphone, there have been many attempts at creating products to help dry out your device. Although a bag filled with uncooked rice is known to do the trick, a variety of portable kits can act as first aid when you’ve inadvertently committed a drowning.

These methods may or may not work, so it may help to know that Daikin Industries recently designed something to save your smartphone from the water. It’s a super-hydrophobic film that waterproofs the circuit board.

How It Works

Daikin’s super-hydrophobic transparent coating is aimed at both OEMs and smartphone users. The coating consists of fluoropolymer film immersed in a fluorinated diluent.

Fluoropolymer film is a base material produced in different types, including Neoflon PFA, which is chemical resistant for semiconductors; Neoflon FEP, which is heat resistant; and Neoflon PCTFE film, which has superior moisture resistance and is transparent and resistant to chemicals. This is the type of fluoropolymer that’s used to protect your smartphone’s circuit board. It’s typically used in pharmaceutical packing.

How It’s Used With Smartphones

Until the product is officially released for use with smartphones, the product is commonly called Daikin Dip. You submerge the entire circuit board in the clear solvent, which is fluorinated and contains fluoropolymers that have been dissolved to create a very thin coating without affecting the board’s functionality.

You only leave the circuit board in the solvent for a short period of time. Once it’s removed, it only a minute or so for the film to dry, sealing it from moisture. Since the coating’s so thin, it won’t add additional bulk or weight to your phone. This  is important to remember, since OEMs are constantly making an effort to pack more punch into smartphone technology without the bulk.

The Future of Super-hydrophobic Materials

Super-hydrophobic materials have been around for some time. You just never hear about them unless you’re in the electronics, machine, semiconductor or automobile industries. They’re capable of many things including resistance to chemicals, waterproofing, optical transparency, non-stick use, resistance to heat, solar use and pharmaceutical purposes, to name a few.

We’re only hearing the material now since Daikin is aiming to make it available for smartphones. It’s expected that super-hydrophonic materials will be used for many more purposes in consumer products. For example, MIT recently experimented with a spray containing fluoropolymer film that makes your clothes moisture proof.  In the future, you may not have to launder your clothes.

General Electric has been working with super-hydrophobic materials for years and recently has used them to create different water-resistant surfaces. If you can imagine the windshield of your car being water resistant or airplane wings that never develop ice buildup, you can picture more possibilities.

Although it’s fun to imagine future uses, one thing’s for certain: You may never have to worry about fishing your smartphone out of the toilet again. Although Daikin Dip doesn’t guarantee 100 percent that your phone will be fully protected, that’s just for now. Watch what trends evolve in the very near future.

Gabriela Jugaru is a tech enthusiast who’s passionate about the mobile industry and gadgets. A technology entrepreneur, she’s co-founder of UnlockUnit.com.

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