Skip to content

April 17, 2018

‘Omniphobic’ smartphone display coating repels it all, from water to peanut butter

by John_A

Touchscreens are awesome. The thing that’s not awesome about them? The fact that our tendency to carry our smartphones everywhere means that the screen regularly becomes a target for grime. Things get even worse when there are kids around, thanks to their unerring ability to find the nearest sticky substance for your phone to come into contact with.

This problem is something that researchers at the University of Michigan may have come up with an answer to, however. They’ve created a clear “omniphobic” coating that can be painted or sprayed onto a surface to make it repel a wide range of materials — everything from water and oil to alcohol and even peanut butter will simply slide off the surface.

“We have developed a smooth omniphobic coating which is easily applied to a broad range of materials,” Mathew Boban, a materials science and engineering graduate researcher on the project, told Digital Trends. “The key challenge was to tune the amount of separation between a liquid-repellent molecule and a binder that sticks it to a surface, so that a very dense and smooth layer of these molecules is formed. Because the coating is smooth and entirely solid, it is more transparent, durable, and stable than many other liquid repellent surfaces, including those using rough textures to entrap tiny air pockets, liquid lubricants, or single layers of repellent molecules.”

University of Michigan

In addition to smartphones and other mobile devices, Boban suggested that the special coating could be usefully applied to other surfaces such as windows to allow them to stay clean for longer. Other applications might include use in refrigeration, power generation, and oil refining. That’s because all of these industries depend on the condensation of liquids, and this coating could increase their efficiency by letting them shrug off condensed water and chemicals more quickly. Finally, it could help improve microfluidic devices used for biomedical research and diagnostics.

“Using the separation-tuning approach, we aim to develop a range of omniphobic coatings using different combinations of binders and liquid-repellent molecules with varying chemistry,” he said. “This will allow us to optimize cost, safety, and performance, and scale up production.”

A paper describing the work, titled “Smooth, All-Solid, Low-Hysteresis, Omniphobic Surfaces with Enhanced Mechanical Durability,” was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Scientists mimic odd leaf structure for potential use in cleaning up oil spills
  • Researchers can now create 3D-printed structures made entirely of liquid
  • A material supreme: How graphene will shape the world of tomorrow
  • Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Home coffee roasters, wooden coding bots, and more
  • Give your phone screen a spring cleaning: How to make a touchsreen shiny again

Read more from News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: