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  • German Scientists Create a Smudge Proof Coating, Touch-Based User Interfaces Rejoice

    Example of solvent bouncing off of surface coated with the new "superamphiphobic" coating


    Fingerprints, smudges and smears could be a thing of the past for eyeglass wearers and gadget owners thanks to German researchers and a little soot.

    The smudge repellent in question is a special coating that repels both water and oil-based fluids. Water based repellents are rather common, but oil-based repellents are traditionally more difficult to produce because of oil’s lower surface tension. Producing a surface capable of repelling both requires a specific kind of roughness “akin to the branches of a budding tree." Research at MIT and elsewhere so far has relied on “nanolithographic techniques.”

    German Researcher utilize a much simpler solution.

    Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz published a paper in the journal Science detailing their method: baking a combination of candle soot and silica at the right temperature. The process’s description feels more Betty Crocker than it does scientific. First, the researchers held a glass slide over a heart-shaped candle (any candle will do) till spheres of soot—30 to 40 nanometers in diameter—stacked loosely producing the right texture, about a 80% empty to 20% spheres. To prevent the soot from washing away researchers coated the surface with a silica shell 25 nanometers thick, and baked the slide at 600 degrees Celsius to make the soot transparent.

    When the researchers sprayed a variety of oils on the slide—peanut and solvents—the droplets bounced up and down on the surface when viewed under a microscope. The coating is referred to as “superamphiphobic” because of its oil and water repelling properties, and can be applied to nearly any surface including aluminum, steel, and copper in addition to glass.

    For gadget iDevice, and gadget owners of every ilk this is a huge advancement. The faster this technology is able to make it from research to development to the manufacturing world the faster touch-based gadget users can live smudge free lives. No longer will “oleophobic” screens that barely repel smudges and fingerprints plague the touch-based user experience.

    This technology is likely still a ways out in terms of implementation into your next tablet or smartphone, but the prospect of a smudge free future is encouraging.

    Source: Technology Review
    This article was originally published in forum thread: German Scientists Create a Smudge Proof Coating, Touch-Based User Interfaces Rejoice started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. Raybeast's Avatar
      Raybeast -
      yes!!!!!!!!!!
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Baked at 600 degrees CELCIUS? Can the iPhone parts even withstand those kind of temperatures to get this on an iPhone screen?
    1. nicrfe's Avatar
      nicrfe -
      I wonder how long the coating will last
    1. wdpower's Avatar
      wdpower -
      Fine and dandy but I like my scratch protection too.
    1. Donnutt's Avatar
      Donnutt -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      Baked at 600 degrees CELCIUS? Can the iPhone parts even withstand those kind of temperatures to get this on an iPhone screen?
      You don't have to bake the whole phone, I'm assuming the screen though...
    1. sweetchilliphil's Avatar
      sweetchilliphil -
      Quote Originally Posted by RICO_ View Post
      Baked at 600 degrees CELCIUS? Can the iPhone parts even withstand those kind of temperatures to get this on an iPhone screen?
      Wow. You do know the production of making the screen would be a completely different process right? So that afterwards, all they need to do is fuse the screen on later? Did you honestly think they'd be chucking iPhones into large ovens with grandmas christmas themed oven mitts?
    1. redline11786's Avatar
      redline11786 -
      Quote Originally Posted by sweetchilliphil View Post
      Wow. You do know the production of making the screen would be a completely different process right? So that afterwards, all they need to do is fuse the screen on later? Did you honestly think they'd be chucking iPhones into large ovens with grandmas christmas themed oven mitts?
      Im sure by "parts" he meant the screen. Relax, homeskillet.
    1. epikarus's Avatar
      epikarus -
      This is amazing! I have very sweaty and oily hands. Amazing! Im assuming they will make screen protectors out of this. I dunno if the touchscreen could handle that temperature.
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Quote Originally Posted by epikarus View Post
      This is amazing! I have very sweaty and oily hands. Amazing! Im assuming they will make screen protectors out of this. I dunno if the touchscreen could handle that temperature.
      I don't think screen protectors could handle those temperatures.
    1. JacquesChirac's Avatar
      JacquesChirac -
      I'll believe it's effectiveness when I see it. I reminds me a lot of this:Ross Nanotechnology's NeverWet superhydrophobic spray-on coating - YouTube
    1. Phillip Swanson's Avatar
      Phillip Swanson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zokunei View Post
      I don't think screen protectors could handle those temperatures.
      They're already trying to develop methods that use chemicals instead of the high-temperature vapor method. But, the vapor method does have advantages for industrial operations where components and machinery operate in high-temperature environments.
    1. RICO_'s Avatar
      RICO_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by sweetchilliphil View Post
      Wow. You do know the production of making the screen would be a completely different process right? So that afterwards, all they need to do is fuse the screen on later? Did you honestly think they'd be chucking iPhones into large ovens with grandmas christmas themed oven mitts?
      I was referring to the iPhone PART involved with the coating....not the whole damn phone. Take a second and think about what you say next time.

      All I am wondering is how thick was that glass slide and could the existing iPhone glass material as thin as it is withstand those temperatures through the coating process and maintain its clarity and resolution.
    1. Jahooba's Avatar
      Jahooba -
      Gotta love those Germans.
    1. iZangetsu's Avatar
      iZangetsu -
      Hmm I wonder if such a coating would affect the application of a screen protecter or wether it would provide some scratch resistance as well if so that'll be the end of screen protectors. But also higher cost in device. Could be a blessing or a curse.
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      In over a year of using iPods I've never gotten a scratch on the screen. What's the point of screen protectors? Cases that protect your screen if you drop it I understand.
    1. docmagoo2's Avatar
      docmagoo2 -
      Ever mistakenly stick your device in your pocket with your keys? that's the point of a screen protector
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      Quote Originally Posted by docmagoo2 View Post
      Ever mistakenly stick your device in your pocket with your keys? that's the point of a screen protector
      No. I don't think I ever will considering I haven't yet (in over a year). That makes sense though. I sometimes put my phone in the same pocket.
    1. epikarus's Avatar
      epikarus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zokunei View Post
      I don't think screen protectors could handle those temperatures.
      A screen protector, i speculate, would be easier and cheaper to develop for than a delicate touch screen. I dunno much about material chemistry but thats my thought.
    1. Themrdecan's Avatar
      Themrdecan -
      Quote Originally Posted by epikarus View Post
      A screen protector, i speculate, would be easier and cheaper to develop for than a delicate touch screen. I dunno much about material chemistry but thats my thought.
      Ther are 3 elements to your touch screen, glass/plastic substrate, digitizer for tracking touches and the actual display. They would only apply the coating to the glass substrate, and only before they put anything else on there, so if they are baking glass slides already there is no reason they can't bake different glass just because it's later attached to your iphone
    1. ikesmasher's Avatar
      ikesmasher -
      woot!