Samsung has reportedly secured the exclusive license to a technology that will enable its future smartphone displays to acquire hydrophobia or hydrophobic characteristics.
This was according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in an official statement announcing the development. The license involves the so-called superhydrophobic film technology that features a transparent coating capable of repelling water, dust and dirt.
The technology could also reduce reflections and resist fingerprint smudges.
The comprehensive coverage seems to trump the capability of the oleophobic coating technology, which can only protect smartphone displays from certain types of oils such as those produced by the human skin. Unfortunately, it does not include the almost magical feature of the self-healing technology introduced by a screen protector company, which also relies on a proprietary coating technology.
Researchers at ORNL developed the superhydrophobic film technology by heating a thin glass film on a glass surface and also heating the coated glass. This is said to transform the surface into two material compositions. These undergo a selective etching process that eventually leads to the production of a porous three-dimensional network of high-silica content glass. This material, which resembles a microscopic coral, enables water-repellent and antireflective properties.
Ideally, a superhydrophobic surface should have at least 150 water droplet contact angle. ORNL's technology is angled from 155 to 165 degrees. The angle ensures that water bounces off the surface, taking dirt and other materials with it.
It appears that the "exclusive" term in Samsung's license only covers electronics. It is important to note that aside from its application on smartphones, it can also be used in solar panels, lenses, detectors, windows and many other products. According to ORNL, the fields of solar panel and architectural windows are still available for licensing.
Naturally, this development has excited the tech world. Some are already saying that while one cannot expect the technology to appear in the Galaxy S8, it could very well be ready to become one of the S9's selling points. Since the coating is applicable to glass surfaces, it could also mean the same thing for Samsung's other devices such as tablets, television and smart watches.
As of this writing, there is no official word yet coming from the Korean tech company. It is expected, however, that this new technology will be lumped together with Samsung's existing technologies that enable a number of its devices to be IP68 resistant.