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Future Samsung phones may feature hydrophobic displays

Samsung has acquired an exclusive license for ORNL's superhydrophobic film technology, which forces water to bounce off the display.

Published onSeptember 27, 2016

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Samsung is already at the cutting edge of mobile display technology with its QHD AMOLED curved displays, but the company is also looking to the future. The US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has announced today that Samsung has acquired an exclusive license for its optically clear superhydrophobic film technology.

Superhydrophobic film technology is a bit of a mouthful, but in a nutshell its the term that the ORNL has coined for its transparent coating designed for display, which helps to repel water and prevents dust and dirt from sticking to the screen. A superhyrdophobic surface has a water droplet contact angle of 150 degrees or more. ORNL’s coating boasts an angle between 155 and 165 degrees. This essentially means that water will actually bounce right off the display, taking dirt and dust with it. Which also means less fingerprints and smudges.

The superhydrophobic technology is manufactured by depositing a thin glass film on a glass surface and then heating the coated glass to turn the surface into two material compositions. This is followed up by a selective edging process to produce a porus 3D network of high-silica content glass, which gives the coating its properties. Samsung will need to integrate this process into its manufacturing line before it can produce any displays for smartphones. While it might be a bit early for the Galaxy S8, this technology could be ready in time for the S9.

The coating can be applied to most glass surfaces, so Samsung could use for for smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, or pretty much anything else with a screen. Of course, Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphones are all boasting IP68 water resistant ratings this year, so this new film technology seems like a natural fit for a future flagship smartphone.

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