Research Highlights

Water-resistant Electronic Devices Developed (2011.8.31)

2011-12-15 1,076

Water probably is the greatest enemy for most electrical devices; water short-circuits electric devices. Therefore the demand is high for developing water-resistant components, and in particular, those to be used for expensive, high-performance electronic devices.

Professor Kijung Yong of Department of Chemical Engineering and PhD candidate Seunghyup Lee have utilized the ‘lotus leaf effect’ with nano materials and manufactured an electronic device that shows stable performance even when soaked in water. The result was published online in Advanced Materials, a renowned journal in materials science. This work was also featured in Nature Research Highlights.

Lotus leaves have nanometer-sized tiny bumps covered with oily substance that makes them hydrophobic. Even when it rains, the leaves do not get wet because the raindrops tend to roll off. Moreover, lotus leaves stay very clean for any debris or pollution gets washed away with water. Self-cleaning paint and anti-mist windows can be developed if such features are applied to industrial purposes.

The research team successfully applied the features to an electronic device by covering its surface with nanowires, which acted just like the bumps on lotus leaves and efficiently blocked water.

Moreover, the team succeeded in applying their new method to RRAMs, a new non-volatile memory type that can process data faster with less electricity than the traditionally used DRAMs. Electronic products are normally packaged by being connected to an electric current and sealed to minimize physical shock. But the device made by Professor Yong’s team required no such packaging to maintain good performance.

This new methodology is expected to be used to protect various memory and electronic devices against water. Until now, fabricating their covers with hydrophobic material has remained the only viable method for protecting electronic devices against water damage.