Paint could offer wireless protection

Japanese researchers have come up with a metal-rich coating that shields medical equipment and other sensitive electronic equipment from high-frequency data signals.

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff January 20, 2009

The speed of wireless communications is ramping up exponentially. As a result, the shields guarding sensitive electronic equipment (such as medical machines and airplane communications) from high-frequency data signals are falling short, leaving the items vulnerable to failure.

According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society , in reaction to the risk, researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan have created a new metal-rich coating designed to protect the sensitive devices, and just in time; while the latest wireless communications to arrive on the scene use electromagnetic waves with frequencies exceeding 100 GHz, the best wave absorbers currently on the market only guard against frequencies at half that level.

The University of Tokyo team has identified an aluminum-iron oxide that blocks ultra-high-frequency waves. Researchers used a sensitive magnetometer to confirm that a powder of the oxide can absorb electromagnetic waves up to 182 GHz at room temperature. The material distorts the bonds between iron and oxygen, which the team believes explains the material’s magnetic properties.

The scientists imagine the particles could be incorporated in a relatively inexpensive paint to shield sensitive medical, laboratory, and airplane equipment from the effects of high-speed wireless communications.