In the developed coating process, a vacuum deposited film is produced – a nonflammable, low toxicity material, which according to the scientists, has the ability to make electronic devices and other surfaces” splash-proof”. This uniform film, which was given the nickname “Golden Shellback”, is clear in appearance, almost non-detectable, and insoluble in solvents. Once applied to clean, moisture-free surfaces it provides them an impenetrable covering with sound weather proofing and anti-corrosion properties, allowing them to withstand contact with more than just water. Experiments with the Golden Shellback showed it to possess an excellent ability to repel oils, synthetic fluids, hazardous materials, dust, dirt, and water based solutions.
Since Golden Shellback is still under development, scientists have yet to disclose the details of the technology behind this invention. They did reveal, however, that the coating, which is typically no more than a single micron thick, is in essence, a waterproof polymer that doesn’t conduct electricity. When coated, the inner and outer surfaces of electronic devices become absolutely resistant to liquids, causing them to bead and drain freely, reminiscent of the way water slides off a duck’s back. The coating material can be safely used under high temperatures, as its melting point nears 300 degrees Celsius. According to the scientists, their coating process also aids in getting the heat out of electronics components, unlike many other standard processes that block the thermal path.
The scientists have already demonstrated their invention’s performance by submerging a variety of electronic devices in water, showing them to remain intact and fully operational – cellular phones, radios, circuit boards, and even a piece of paper dated back to the seventeenth century – have all been coated and none showed signs of damage after being placed underwater for several hours.
Golden Shellback isn’t yet available to the public, but some have already estimated that the price for coating a single electronic device will vary between several hundred to a thousand dollars, depending on the size of the device. The coating will most likely be performed solely by the same company that invented it, which means that customers who would like use the service will have to send their devices in “for treatment”. However, the scientists say service might become available at some local stores shortly after the product hits the market, which is expected to be sometime in the next six months.
Aside from the consumer market, the company plans to introduce Golden Shellback to commercial marine, recreational boating, military, industrial, and medical industries. “The coating process is specifically designed to protect devices commonly used in marine and hazardous environments against operational malfunction caused by exposure to moisture, immersion in water, dust, effects of high wind and chemicals,” said the inventors.
TFOT has previously covered a number of related innovations – such as the recently developed dirt repelling coating which can be used for a variety of purposes ranging from keeping cars and buildings clean to preventing fogging on lenses and mirrors. And since we’re on the subject, check out our coverage of a technology that could make your wool skirts and silk ties clean themselves, saving you the time and money currently spent on dry cleaners.