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

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.”

omniphobic screen coating clear 1
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.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Suck up the savings with these vacuum cleaners on sale for $100 or less

Keeping your floors clean around the home is a constant chore. To help make things a whole lot easier, we've picked out some great vacuum cleaner deals available right now, from full-sized upright models to robot vacs.

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.

High-tech but low-key, these are the amazing materials inside your outdoor gear

We take a look at some of the materials that are used in the creation of our favorite outdoor gear, making our jackets, sleeping bags, tents, and other items warmer, drier, and more comfortable even in harsh weather conditions.
Emerging Tech

SeaBubbles’ new electric hydrofoil boat is the aquatic equivalent of a Tesla

What do you get if you combine a Tesla, a flying car, and a sleek boat? Probably something a bit like SeaBubbles, the French "flying" boat startup which offers a fresh spin on the hydrofoil.
Emerging Tech

We tried a $500 electronic dab rig, and now we can’t go back to normal vaporizers

Induction heating is the future of cannabis vaporizers. Loto Labs wowed us with what likely is the best concentrate vaporizer on the market today. With a $500 price tag, it's expensive, but it should definitely be your next dab rig.
Emerging Tech

Israel will launch world’s first privately funded moon mission tomorrow

This week will see the world's first privately funded lunar mission launch. Israel's first mission to the moon will be launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, February 21.
Emerging Tech

FDA warns about the dangers of anti-aging blood transfusions

It turns out injecting old people with blood from healthy youngsters may not be the answer to health rejuvenation. That’s according to the FDA, which says such claims are dangerous junk science.
Emerging Tech

Bees can do arithmetic, setting the scientific community abuzz

A new study has found something remarkable: Bees can do basic arithmetic. Researchers showed that bees could use colors as representations for numbers and then use those colors for addition and subtraction.
Emerging Tech

DeepSqueak is a machine learning A.I. that reveals what rats are chatting about

Want to know what rats are squeaking about? You'd better check out DeepSqueak, the new deep learning artificial intelligence developed by researchers at the University of Washington.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.

NASA celebrates Earth’s incredible natural beauty with free photo book

NASA has published a fabulous new book featuring stunning imagery captured by its satellites over the years. A hardback version is available for $53, though it can also be downloaded to ebook readers for free, and enjoyed online.

This new all-in-one flashlight is a power bank, lighter, and screwdriver

The Pyyros modular flashlight can perform numerous field tasks, from hammering to starting fires. If you back it on Kickstarter now, you can score some savings on this innovative flashlight and multi-tool, but act fast: This early-bird…
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.