Have you ever had a mobile phone that was shut down after you accidentally dropped it in water?
Most electronic products can be damaged by water. Exposure to water will slow them down or even disable them altogether.
You might think of waterproof watch, which can be unaffected in wet environments, even 100 meters down in the sea.
But a watch has few of its workings exposed to the outside and can be waterproofed by sealing. A mobile phone, however, is more complex and its functions, including signal communication, sound transmission and imaging, could expose multiple parts.
Sealing them is difficult and costly, according to researchers. Furthermore, if cracked, the seal inside will break and cannot prevent water from entering.
Now, researchers at Ningbo Institute of Industrial Technology, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a water-resistant coating with a nano-material that can protect a phone in rain, water and humidity.
With the "waterproof coat", you can listen to music on your phone in the bathroom and not worry about taking a call on the side of the pool, said lead researcher Zeng Zhixiang.
Electronic products wearing the coat can still operate normally after being 100 meters under water for an hour.
"The nano coating has undergone extensive tests and can maintain waterproof performance after falling a meter 18 times, and being under ultraviolet light for more than 100 hours," he said.
His research team focused on developing an oil absorption material for many years.
With the development of a marine economy, oil spills occur frequently. When a freighter docks, oily sewage can be discharged into the sea and harm the marine environment.
The researchers developed a series of "oil-loving" and "water-fearing" materials that absorb oil with high efficiency, and separate the oil and water into two components.
The two materials are similar, said Zeng, and through regulating the micro structure and surface of the coating, researchers could make it waterproof.
They have improved the nanotechnology to minimize the coating's impact on product appearance, conductivity, heat dissipation and signal transmission, "solving a long-standing technical problem."
The nano waterproof coating can also be used on drones, cars and in ocean engineering.
"Products in these industries update very fast, which requires our technology keep improving to meet the needs of customers," said Zeng.