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Invention makes objects liquid repellent
04:07 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Liquid repellent nano-coating technology prevents water from being absorbed onto surfaces

Most popular application so far is within mobile phones and hearing aids

The chemical's British-based inventor Stephen Coulson says it could be applied to almost everything

Soon you won’t have to worry about your phone falling in the toilet, tumbling into a puddle or someone inadvertently dribbling coffee into the headphone socket (we’ve all done it).

British-based firm P2i has developed a “liquid repellent nano-coating” technology – branded Aridion™ – that can be sprayed onto a solid surface and, they claim, repel nearly all forms of liquid.

The polymer coating in question is a patented chemical that lowers an object’s surface energy, causing liquid to form beads upon contact and roll off without being absorbed.

The chemical itself is a little less than 50 nanometers wide – that’s 1,000 times thinner than a human hair and, suffice to say, completely invisible to the naked eye.

That means once a mobile phone – or any electronic device – has been coated, it’s still physically indistinguishable from the original.

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“You look at it and you can’t see any change,” explains Stephen Coulson, the chemical engineer who developed the technology. “But when you drop water on it, it will just bead up and drop off. More importantly, the internals will also be protected to prevent corrosion damage.”

Like the Internet, GPS and digital photography before it, Aridion™ began life as a military-sponsored innovation – with a military purpose in mind.

In this case, the British Ministry of Defense were seeking to provide maximum protection to its soldiers’ uniforms so they could resist all types of liquid assailants, “not just rainwater, but also chemical nasties like nerve agent,” says Coulson.