Bill Nye Explains iPhone 3GS’s Oleophobic Screen


Image Credit: iStockphoto

The difference between the screens on the newest iPhone version and the prior one is like night and day. The glass screen of iPhone 3GS is less receptive to fingerprints and that smartphone, smudgy buildup. On my old iPhone, I felt like the witness in “My Cousin Vinny” who claimed he could identify the defendants. It was later determined impossible that he could do so in “a moment of 2 seconds, looking through this dirty window, this crud-covered screen, all of these trees, with all of these leaves on them, and I don’t know how many bushes.”

While I don’t have all of those items in between me and my iPhone, the new handset display is a joy to look at due to the oleophobic polymers bonded to the glass. This coating resists fingerprint oils, but until now I don’t know why. Who better to explain how it works than Bill Nye, who authored a guest post over at Gizmodo to explain the process:

“The Applers were able to do this by bonding this oleophobic polymer to glass. The polymer is an organic (from organisms) compound, carbon-based. The glass is nominally inorganic, silicon-based… solid rock. The trick is getting the one to stick to the other.”

Bill’s explanation on how to mesh the organic solution to a non-organic display is simple, informative and entertaining. Who else but Bill Nye could work in bikini straps, car wax and smooshed droplets into such an educational diatribe?

I’ve noticed the difference with the new iPhone almost from day one. It’s far more resistant to fingerprints and smudges, plus a quick wipe makes the screen crystal clear again. I used to scrub the old iPhone screen like a rusty pot for the same effect.


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