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Hardware Science Technology

Nokia Developing Diamond-Like Gadget Casing 122

Posted by Zonk
from the still-waiting-on-transparasteel dept.
space_pingu writes "In the future, all gadgets could be coated with tough, diamond-like material. A patent from Nokia — featured in the latest patent round-up from New Scientist — describes a way of infusing plastic cases with a material, structurally similar to diamond, made from coal. Not only is it more scratch and grime-resistant, but it's also cheap and biodegradable. Apparently it also shines like a metal. The article also touches on a technique for welding with 'ice bullets', and an airport scanner that protects the dignity of travelers."
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Nokia Developing Diamond-Like Gadget Casing

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  • by gp310ad (77471) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:29AM (#17723120) Homepage
    you already own a gadget made with DLCs.
    • yeah we have been testing DLC as a coating for titanium at work (difficult to coat titanium..). What I don't get is how useful a 'biodegradable' gadget is!! One morning you wake up to find your phone has melted ;)
      • by GeckoX (259575)
        I got the impression that it is about as 'biodegradable' as other metals. In other words, not expected to be a problem over the life of the product.

        Unless you have problems with your cell phones rusting out before you're ready to throw them away, I don't think you'll have much to worry about.
    • by tinkerghost (944862) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:04AM (#17723522) Homepage

      When I was working at a company doing rotary press holograms, we were working on doing coatings of TiO2 using crystal growth. Our rough estimates were double the scratch resistance of an acrylic coating. Fun mixture - Titinate/Titinol acid inhibited/water catalized reaction occuring in an anhydrous methanol solution printed onto a film. All the benefits of glass vapor deposition (refractive index/scratchresistance) at about $0.05/1000SI as opposed to $1/1000SI.

      While it might be good for the scratch resistance, I do have to wonder what this is going to add to the cost - it might just be cheaper to use a more durable plastic instead of cheap plastic w/ coating.

    • Most hard disks have for some years had a thin layer of similar material as the top layer above the magnetically active layer(s). In this application the diamond-like carbon's usefulness comes from a combination of several properties, primarily that it is very hard but at the same time presents a very low-friction surface. Diamond-like carbon comes in many different forms, but can inherit properties from both diamond (hardest material, high refractive index, high electrical resistance, massive thermal condu
  • *yawn* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Control Group (105494) * on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:30AM (#17723132) Homepage
    Call me when I can get a skull gun.

    Or leverage my dry wit, stiff upper lip, and giant mustache to join the Vickies.
  • Doh (Score:5, Funny)

    by rorre (628427) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:35AM (#17723188)
    If it's so tough, it will scratch everything else.
  • Impractical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:37AM (#17723208)
    and an airport scanner that protects the dignity of travelers

    Traveler dignity is not good for security theater.
  • Not only is it more scratch and grime-resistant, but it's also cheap and biodegradable.

    Isn't strong and biodegradable mutually exclusive?
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Silver Sloth (770927) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:40AM (#17723250)

      Isn't strong and biodegradable mutually exclusive?
      Try oak wood.
      • Isn't strong and biodegradable mutually exclusive?

        Try oak wood.


        Oak is no where near as strong as diamond.
        • Strong != hard (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Flying pig (925874) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:12AM (#17723630)
          Any very large real diamond will have flaws in its crystal structure which will cause it to shatter if hit in the right way. (The idea that you can hit a small diamond with a sledgehammer and it will bounce off is pure fantasy.) Oak is a truly remarkable composite material which, like all successful composites, has harder materials (quartz for instance) and soft materials in the matrix. It is a very strong material for its weight and can absorb large amounts of energy, both in bending and impact. Looking for a bedplate material recently for a heavy vibrating system, I couldn't find anything better, in terms of performance and price, than European oak supported by steel beams. If I had been able to replace the oak beams with diamond, I rather think the vibration would shatter it along the fault planes in no time.

          On the other hand, if you know a way to make cheap diamonds a metre long by 10cm square as one perfect crystal, at a price under $100, I'd like to be your European sales agent.

          • Re:Strong != hard (Score:4, Informative)

            by ivan256 (17499) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:42AM (#17724010)
            Oak is great and all, but I wouldn't want to keep it in a moist place for very long. At least not without some coating on it (which presumably would defeat the purpose). Additionally, oak is not very scratch resistant.

            It is a very strong material for its weight and can absorb large amounts of energy, both in bending and impact. Looking for a bedplate material recently for a heavy vibrating system, I couldn't find anything better, in terms of performance and price, than European oak supported by steel beams.

            Fir is stiffer and considerably cheaper. It is also generally available in much longer lengths than oak.

            On the other hand, if you know a way to make cheap diamonds a metre long by 10cm square as one perfect crystal, at a price under $100, I'd like to be your European sales agent.

            How thick does it have to be? If you only need a few microns, then no problem.
            • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward
              Him:
              a metre long by 10cm square


              You:
              How thick does it have to be?


              Not as thick as you, failed smartass.
            • Re:Strong != hard (Score:4, Informative)

              by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @11:11AM (#17724288) Homepage
              Oak is great and all, but I wouldn't want to keep it in a moist place for very long. At least not without some coating on it (which presumably would defeat the purpose). Additionally, oak is not very scratch resistant.

              You know, they used to make ships out of oak. The old Royal Navy and all that.... "Hearts of Oak". Yes, they were clad with copper at the waterline but that was to keep the Toredo (sp?) worms from chewing up hull. Pretty water resistant. And natural - can't forget that. No nasty nano this and nano that.

              • by ivan256 (17499)
                They coated them in pitch and varnish.
              • by david.given (6740)

                You know, they used to make ships out of oak.

                The Chinese made spacecraft out of oak --- well, the heatshields at least. The SKW series of satellites had reentry shields made out of oak panels. Apparently it has just the right ablation characteristics, as well as being cheap...

              • by mohaine (62567)

                And natural - can't forget that. No nasty nano this and nano that.
                Oak trees give off isoprene, which is converted to formaldehyde by sunlight and water.

                Formaldehyde molecules are both nasty and nano sized.

                Not to say Oak trees are bad for you, but it is good to remember that Natural != Healthy. There are plenty of naturally occurring poisons.
            • by pcb (125862)
              I have an oak stump in my backyard which was ground to just below grade about 5 years ago. If I hit it with an axe today, it still goes 'thud'. There has been, as far as I can tell, absolutely no decomposition - what a pain in the ass!! Let me tell you, tough stuff.

              -PCB
          • by inviolet (797804)

            Looking for a bedplate material recently for a heavy vibrating system, I couldn't find anything better, in terms of performance and price, than European oak supported by steel beams. If I had been able to replace the oak beams with diamond, I rather think the vibration would shatter it along the fault planes in no time.

            What are you doing in that bed, that you need so much structural strength?

            And: "a heavy vibrating system" ?!

            Wait, don't answer that. I keep forgetting that this is /.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by maxume (22995)
          Oak is no where near as hard as diamond. You can still smash a diamond, etc, hardness is hardness not strength. For example, wood has absurd tensile strength, something that crystal structures often lack, unless they are more or less perfect.
      • Isn't strong and biodegradable mutually exclusive?
        Try oak wood.

        ...or steel

      • My favorite story about oak was that the Chinese space program used it was a heat shield for small a recoverable spacecraft. It chars and bit of it burn away but it only has to work once.
    • No. Just like how you can have a ductile material that shatters at failure, or a fat that your body won't absorb AND won't mess up your digestive system, you can have an industructible material that quickly decays.
    • I would say wood, which is the most widely used construction materal in temperate climates, is both strong and biodegradable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thansal (999464)
      the other question is of course:
      So what?

      Ok, so some how it is biodegradable, but the rest of the product still is made of plastic/metal, and those, afaik, are still NOT biodegradable.

      Oh, and I am with you on wondering how it is both ultra strong AND biodegradable. After all, are diamonds biodegradable? Some one else said bones, last I checked bones last a VERY long time, sure they are biodegradable, but it will take many years to do so....

      oh well, I dont' get it.

      guess I should do some more research.
      • Ok, so some how it is biodegradable, but the rest of the product still is made of plastic/metal, and those, afaik, are still NOT biodegradable.

        That's what recycling programs are designed for.

        • by Thansal (999464)
          so what do we do?
          Wait the multitude of years that it would take to wear off (I find it hard to believe that something that can stand up to regular use for a few years with out being damaged is likely to degrade in a few months after that, look at wool socks, they take years to degrade), and then recycle the base parts?

          I think the entire biodegradable thing is a red herring. Anything tread with this stuff will probably need another treatment to get it off, and then after that you can recycle it the way you
  • Glock has been using a coating called "Tenifer" for nearly 20 years. Can be given a nice finish, very durable in my experience, and quite hard. Obviously that technology is mature by now, if scuff-proof metal things in your pocket is important I wonder if that would be suitable. Anyone have the low-down on Glock's Tenifer coating, what it is, and how it is or isn't like this stuff?
    • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:51AM (#17723358) Homepage Journal
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenifer [wikipedia.org]

      "Glock, an Austrian firearms manufacturer, utilizes this process to protect the slides of the pistols they manufacture. The Tenifer finish on a Glock is the third and final hardening process. It is 0.05 millimeters thick and produces a patented 64 Rockwell C (diamond cone) hardness rating via a 500 C nitride bath. The final matte, non-glare finish meets or exceeds stainless steel specifications, is 85% more corrosion resistant than a hard chrome finish, and is 99.9% salt-water corrosion resistant. After the Tenifer process, a black Parkerized finish is applied and the slide is protected even if the finish were to wear off. Several other pistols also use this process including the Walther P99 and Steyr M/S series."

      This stuff is different, because it isn't a nitriding process, it's a diamond coating process. You get loads of coatings for engineering purposes, a few I've heard of at work are deep gas nitriding, armoloy, diamond-like-coating, tungsten carbide coatings, etc
    • If I recall correctly - I may not, and I don't have time just now to link hunt - the Tenifer process isn't allowed in some countries (including the US) for environmental reasons (byproducts of the process are particularly pernicious waste, I believe).
  • Welcome (Score:5, Funny)

    by Malshew (994039) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:45AM (#17723300)
    Welcome to the future. Everything is shiny here.
  • by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:47AM (#17723322)
    I can understand that at this point they are probably just filing patents "just in case." However, taking radiographs of every air passenger is not what I would call a responsible use of ionizing radiation.

    Before anyone starts quoting dose limits at me, I'm going to say right now that exposure to ionizing radiation should be kept as low as is feasible to do. This means that you _avoid_ unnecessary radiographs and similar procedures, not throw them up for every air passenger--not at the doses imparted by modern radiographs. I also can't understand how they can support such a system when some folks fly dozens of times a year or many more and will have no practical way to track the number of radiographs they've had taken so far this year etc. etc. Can you imagine a very frequent flyer being turned away from security because he'd been put through the scanner too many times this year? Of course you can't--that would never happen because nobody is keeping track.

    Unless backscatter x-ray requires far, far less entrance exposure than standard radiography (which I suppose it would since it doesn't need to penetrate the body) to the point where it's into background or only somewhat above, it's very hard to not be a little worried by this. Of course, if they plan on visualizing both sides of the body at once, then naturally they will have to penetrate the body. Then you have the issues of people being told to "go through again" because of machine glitches, because someone was looking at the bag scanner instead, etc.

    What really worries me is that nobody seems to even be talking about this. That either means that the doses from these radiographs really are that much lower (and I just don't know it), or that nobody is really concerned by it (which is a scary thought, meaning as it does that our "security" obsession is starting to physically do harm to people).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I suspect you'd get a bigger dose sitting in the plane once it gets to high altitude...
      • by Wilson_6500 (896824) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:23AM (#17723774)
        I don't know much about flight doses. However, this calculator [cami.jccbi.gov] gave me a dose equivalent on the order of 10 microSv for an hour-long flight. For a ten-hour flight, it gives less than 1 mSv. PA chest radiographs give dose equivalents on the order of 10 microSv (at about 100 kVp or so), if I'm not mistaken--I think that's on the right order.

        We can say that it seems that this scan (assuming it "behaves" dose-wise just like a PA chest radiograph) just adds a dose of about an extra hour of flight-time. Of course, since we're not provided any of the dose profile information ourself (if they use lower energy x-rays the dose goes up a bit) there's no way for us to really be sure. We can sit here and approximate and hand-wave all we'd like, but as a medical physics student I haven't heard a word about these machines or their potential health effects OR about any regulations for these machines. Now, I can't expect to hear everything about every new radiographic device, but I consider this a pretty important advancement in the field, and I never hear anyone discussing putting health physicists in airports to monitor these machines. Considering how closely watched and regulated are medical radiographic instruments, it seems that these machines should be subject to similar close monitoring--which is probably not feasible in an airport-security environment.
        • by spun (1352)
          Here's the Wikipedia article on the effects of ionizing radiation on animals. [wikipedia.org] Seems a low dose like this MAY actually protect against further damage from exposure. So the dose you get from the scanner could possibly protect you from the dose you get in-flight.
          • Hormesis is currently controversial among health scientists--I'm fairly certain most agree that it can occur, but nobody is quite sure of the mechanism for it yet. Personally, I would call it akin to relying upon the placebo effect in order to cure a patient: it's not something we're able to control well enough at this point to try using it as a medical tool, and suggesting that it be done is bad professional practice. It's akin to suggesting that regulations on radiation workers be relaxed because the cons
    • by v3rm0n (1054824)
      "But while the millimetre-band waves it uses have none of the health risks associated with ionising radiation such as X-rays..." This was in the first article. Did you read it or did you mean some other machines?
      • The actual New Scientist article mentions x-rays specifically. The attached patent application--which is what the article summarizes--deals with backscatter x-ray technology but then mentions millimeter wave later on in I guess "section" 0030. The patent, however, appears to be dealing with a backscatter x-ray device since x-ray devices are mentioned literally constantly throughout, whereas millimeter is mentioned only once. Their first link is to their writeup on millimeter-wave. I don't have a clue why mi
        • To a physicist, an X-ray is any photon emitted from an energetic electron. X-rays span a large range of wavelengths that many might call millimeter (infrared/microwave), centimeter (microwave). To a physicist, X-ray does not imply ionizing.

          Backscatter X-ray frequently uses terahertz frequency (~10 millimeter wavelength) which is infrared. It doesn't penetrate water (read: skin).
          • I think that to medical or health physicists, if you say "x-ray" I'm pretty sure they'll respond "ionizing." I don't know many people who would call photons in the optical range "x-rays" because of the way they were generated when there's a more useful label (optical) to give them. X-Ray is a useful label to distinguish nuclear gamma from electronic x-ray, but I wouldn't assume that pedantry to the extreme you suggest is as widespread in physics as you've claimed.
    • Hey, this is about security - that means it's part of homeland security. Safety is the responsibility of the NTSB and they only exist so we can blame them when planes fall out of the sky.
    • by badspyro (920162)
      didn't you realize? this is the governments secret plan to create a group of superheros!
    • by stiggle (649614)
      Some people need to know their exact dose though - those who work in the nuclear industry have their dosage monitored very tightly. So X-rays and such add to their allowed limits and so means they can't work in hot areas if they exceed their allowed monthly/annual dosage.
    • Never mind that; flying exposes you to increased radiation. Better drive instead (and be exposed to increased risk of being in a wreck).
    • Passengers can opt out of backscatter scans in favor of pat downs. http://www.tsa.gov/research/privacy/backscatter.sh tm [tsa.gov]
  • by TheJasper (1031512) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @09:50AM (#17723344)

    The security guard can click on any suspicious objects to remove the distortion and enlarge that area for a closer look.
    So this scanner is meant to protect the dignity of passengers how? Seems like it protects security from passengers they *dont* want to see naked. Any good looking passenger will obviously have something suspicious in their underwear. After all, you have to make sure those bulges aren't concealing any dangerous liquids. For that matter, aren't breast implant illegal hidden carriers of liquids? Could be dangerous. Think of your own scenarios for female guards, I don't go that way.
    • Apparently breasts aren't protected anyway. The article states that the imaging obfuscates the face, groin and armpits.
    • by uradu (10768)
      > So this scanner is meant to protect the dignity of passengers how?

      Easy:

      Sir, please insert the Dignity Protector Applicator into your rectum when this light turns green, then rest both palms on these shiny metal pads and relax all muscles. Next!
    • by Goaway (82658)
      Think of your own scenarios for female guards, I don't go that way.

      Yes, better try your hardest not to ever think of a penis! DON'T THINK OF PENISES!

      YOU MIGHT CATCH THE GAY!
    • by darvs (135096)
      For female guards? Easy...

      "Is that a gun in your pocket, or am I just happy to see you?"
  • Infusing plastic with a diamond-like carbon cladding to make it more scratch resistant? Oh for Christ's sake, they'll let you patent any old obvious thing, nowadays! Why not a fork and spoon while they're at it. Stupid patent office! >:-(

  • BS. People protect or take away dignity. Machines are props for dignity games.
  • iPhone may leapfrog the competition, but Nokia's moving at Ludacris speed: "Watch out for the medallion my diamonds are reckless Feels like a MIDGET is hanging from my necklace!"
  • iPods, here we come.
  • Don't misunderstand me, chummers - Dikote is cool - but who in their right mind would put it on their mobile? What do they expect from that, a phone with +1 ballistic armor?

    No, wait, they want to use the phone as a blunt weapon, so they raise the power level by one. Nokia: For when you really need to do (STR-1)L stun damage. I'll wait for the Motorola CHNSW.
    • by compro01 (777531)
      well, your phone being bulletproof could be useful. most people keep them in their pockets. which are typically right over top of a major artery. we've already got bullet-stopping laptops.
  • Yes, most people will not pay more for more resistant mp3 players, but they will pay for the shiny version!

    ooh! no-scratch Shiny!
  • I' cant reach the new scientist site as it seems to have been /.-ed, but I'm assuming they intend to use carbon nanotubes [wikipedia.org] as the new fancy material. I was unaware of them until recently, but apparently there is a good chance that nokia's phones as well as your future computer will use carbon nanotubes internally.

    According to IBM and other players nanotubes are the designated successor of silicon based electronics. They already know how to mass manufacture it and they've made transistors that are 1 nm in d

    • by thetzar (30126)
      If you wanted to beat someone over the head, wouldn't you want to use a stick made of something easy to beat?
  • Sure, it resisted dirt and scratches. But it rotted in my pocket.
  • I hope it doesn't degrade while it's sitting in my pocket. There's more oxygen in my pants than in a landfill.

    -Peter
    • by Radon360 (951529)
      The biodegradability is a "feature". It forces the user to upgrade their phone/iPod/PDA on a regular basis. If Microsoft can force obsolecence of software, why can't the hardware people come up with a similar solution?
    • Those engineers.What will they think of next? Rust never sleeps.
  • Is't crystalline carbon after all.
  • Diamonex [diamonex.com], of Allentown, PA, has been doing these diamond-like coatings for years. It's not a new technology, and Nokia isn't claiming it as such. The most common application is the glass cover on supermarket POS scanners. Diamonex offers a lifetime warranty on their scanner glass; it doesn't scratch even after a few million canned goods have been dragged across it. It's probably in a supermarket near you.

    Diamond-like coatings haven't typically been used in consumer products because they were too expe

    • by malkir (1031750)
      That's interesting, I never knew that -- I'll check it out next time I'm there.
      • by Animats (122034)

        Not all scanners have diamond coating. It's an option, at $80 or so. A checkout scanner glass gets much harder use than a cell phone, so Nokia can use much thinner layers of diamond.

  • And the only waste product is water when the ice melts.

    Oh I get it, I can only water my lawn on Tuesday & Saturday so theese guys can play with high-powered bbguns. It's all so clear to me now.
  • You can get the PATENT APPLICATION TO ISSUE & then make a viable product out of your claims.

    In this case it is a patent application that may never issue.

    The hardest part of all for Nokia is to get a succeessful form of plasma coating to work well enough for production parts, with a long enough life time, and a low enough cost (usually the killer in plasma coatings).

  • by russint (793669)
    A diamond-like material, made from coal. What an invention!
  • I'd say now's the time to invest in Nokia stock.
  • Just look at the quality of Nokia phones over the past few years. They have been getting worse with each iteration. My Nokia from 1997 was a cheap low end model, but was built like a tank and has taken all kinds of abuse. A mid range nokia model today feels so flimsy, it's designed to break in a year or two tops.

    Whatever stuff they come up with, you can be sure it will only appear in military grade models or $1000+ phones.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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