Samsung has recently licensed a new technology from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a “superhydrophobic” coating which is completely transparent and has special qualities that allow it to repel water and fingerprints better than any other coating on devices today.
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So what does “superhydrophobic” mean? Essentially it means that it repels water by literally having it bounce off of the surface. In more technical terms, a hydrophobic coating must achieve a water droplet contact angle of 90 degrees or more where a superhydrophobic coating must achieve 150 degrees or more. In real life application, hydrophobic glass panels make the panel resist collecting water and form droplets like most displays do. You can see in the video below that when water is dropped onto a glass panel with a superhydrophobic coating, it immediately comes off leaving the panel dry.
That’s a big deal when it comes to smartphones, especially Samsung’s water resistant ones, because it means your display is ready to be used as soon as it is removed from water. Current panels need to be dried off before you can accurately use them, but this coating would allow it to be used immediately since none of the water would be left behind.
According to ORNL, Samsung is planning to use this technology not only on smartphones but also on tablets and home appliances. While the water resistance alone is reason enough to get excited about this technology, the fact that it also better resists fingerprints is even more so, not to mention it’s also anti-reflective.
It’s unclear when we’ll see this technology debut on Samsung products, but it’s entirely possible that it would appear on the upcoming Galaxy S8 or other future products.