Good news for the safety of electronics, especially with regards to their potential exposure to liquids.
Sometimes our phones end up in the toilet bowl, or laptops end up covered in tea. It happens.
But if they were coated with an ‘omniphobic’ material, like the one created by a team of University of Michigan researchers, your devices would be a lot more likely to come out unscathed.
This everything-proof material works by combining fluorinated polyurethane and fluorodecyl polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (F-POSS).
F-POSS has an extremely low surface energy, which means that things don’t stick to it.
The coating developed by the team stands out from other similar materials because of the clever way these two ingredients work together, forming a more durable product.
“In the past, researchers might have taken a very durable substance and a very repellent substance and mixed them together,” Tuteja said.
“But this doesn’t necessarily yield a durable, repellent coating.”
But these two materials have combined so well, they ended up with a durable coating that can repeal everything – oil, water, or anything else the researchers threw at it.
Although this all sounds amazing, this incredible coating won’t be available quite yet – F-POSS is rare and expensive right now, although that is changing as manufacturers scale up the product, which should lower the cost.
It’s quite crucial that the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor of protecting privacy rights and rule against the antiquated third-party doctrine. People’s locations should not be automatically tracked by the government for simply having their phones on and with them.
Many cellphone users have only a vague understanding of the extent to which providers monitor their movements, but these companies now track us much more closely than even the most committed human spies ever could. Cellphones function by connecting to antennas – “cell sites” or “cell towers” – that provide cellular service. Those cell sites, which are owned and operated by the cellular companies, are programmed to record which phones connect to them, and when. They also record the direction from which the connecting phone’s signal is received and, often, the distance of the phone from the cell site.
So-called “cell site location information” is becoming ever more precise, because the cellular network is becoming ever more dense. The analytical tools that can be brought to bear on this information are also becoming more sophisticated, meaning that investigators can draw reliable conclusions from smaller and smaller amounts of data. It’s precisely because the information is so rich, of course, that the government is interested in accessing it.
Privacy scholars are watching Carpenter’s case closely because it may require the supreme court to address the scope and continuing relevance of the “third-party-records doctrine”, a judicially developed rule that has sometimes been understood to mean that a person surrenders her constitutional privacy interest in information that she turns over to a third party. The government contends that Carpenter lacks a constitutionally protected privacy interest in his location data because his cellphone was continually sharing that data with his cellphone provider.