T-SEC > Sono-Tek  > How are thin, swipe-able devices possible? Ultra Sonic Sprays.

How are thin, swipe-able devices possible? Ultra Sonic Sprays.

In the technology sector, thin is in.

The news for 2020 and beyond? Being thin and curvy is as popular as ever, especially when it comes to the devices we use.

Whether it’s a wearable, a display kiosk, a mobile device, or a point-of-sale device, consumers have become accustomed to and want a certain standard of design and usability.

They like their devices thin, and, in many cases, such as a Fitbit, curvy.

Swipe up is everything in mobile

This is the method we now use on what we refer to as our “touchscreens.”

We also swipe down. Up, down, in fact, even side to side!

It’s how we scroll through an endless amount of information, and within an app, dynamically populated, related images and information are also navigable as we swipe right or left.

In order to accomplish this, touchscreens use a type of technology known as capacitative.

A device with a capacitative touchscreen captures changes in the electrical currents running through the screens.

Changes we activate when we “touch” the screen and it’s our own bodies that act as the conducting factor!

The screens are layered with what the industry calls capacitive material.

Simply put, it is electricity-storing material.

When you swipe open your phone by tapping in your password, access your messaging app or your Instagram account and begin to tap, tap, tap what exactly is happening inside your phone?

Well, when you tap on your phone, somehow your phone has to convert that touch in order to set the communications dominoes into play.

An electrical signal.

Your phone converts your tap into an electrical signal. To do so, it has to capture precisely where you have touched it.

Beneath the glass surface of your phone or whatever device is enabled with capacitative touch there are micro pieces of a conducting material such as Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), Aluminum Doped Zinc Oxide (AZO), Zinc Oxide (ZnO), and Fluorine Doped Oxide.

These layers are created by using ultrasonic spray pyrolysis.

The material is arranged on a grid allowing for a responsive and versatile surface, and through this because of chemistry, mechanics and electrical signals, the transfer of information occurs.

The medium is the message

We’ve become so accustomed to this technology we may not realize how profoundly it has amplified across other technologies as whole new industries have erupted.

Think about all the apps on your mobile device, for instance. By and large they are “swipe-able.” They provide information.

Now, they even contain advertising!

These new content delivery systems put the user in the role of programmer impacting everything from marketing to programming with the consumer calling the shots and making content.

Just look at the fun people are having on Tik Tok! It’s the age of user-generated content and influencer marketing.


How do we get such thin devices? Specialty coatings.

Back to ultrasonic spray pyrolysis. The technology in our smart devices is achieved based, in part, on the application of sophisticated coatings powering capacitative screens.

Not very long ago, that kind of touchscreen technology was unheard of.

Then,  a “resistive” method enabled device activation, but it had limits.

The way it works is simple: two thin layers of plastic, spaced a tiny distance apart, have electricity running in between them.

But what the resistive method could not do is allow a user to slide, swipe, or drag across the surface of the device to activate the screen.

Sono-Tek delivers the coatings for this new technology

One Hudson Valley advanced manufacturer and T-SEC partner, Sono-Tek, has been instrumental in developing applications, most notably their patented ultrasonic nozzle.

This ultrasonic nozzle delivers the coatings that help make our touchscreens capacitative, propelling bleeding edge technology forward:

“Our coating equipment is commonly used for spraying thin-film polymers and other conductive nanocoating chemistries in the manufacture of fingerprint sensor components for laptops, smartphones, and other electronic devices, as well as medical testing and diagnostic sensor devices.” Sono-Tek’s website explains.

Since the subject at hand has been “thin,” it’s important to note that Sono-Tek’s sensor manufacturing coating systems boast the ability to deliver control of coating thickness from thin nanolayers to 10’s of microns, literally thinner than thin.

You can find out more about Sono-Tek’s coating system advantages in their technical paper: Ultrasonic Spray Coating of Nanoparticles.

A brilliantly engineered nozzle designed by Sono-Tek delivers the finest possible spray

The Ultrasonic Nozzle: Sono-Tek’s Core Business

This patented ultrasonic nozzle technology is what is at the core of Sono-Tek’s business.

Their novel ability to cause liquid atomization with high-frequency vibration using low amounts of energy and controlling with precision the amount of material used as well as the minute size of the spray particles that are created, was based upon science applied by Sono-Tek’s creator, Dr. Harvey Berger.

Berger, who first commercialized ultrasonic spray nozzles, successfully theorized that if you can apply an electrostatic field to droplets as soon as they’re born then the droplets will repel each other because you have employed a very high frequency which creates a vibration that in turn atomizes the liquid material at which point it can be applied to the intended surface.


A technician uses a T-SEC piece of equipment, the Oscilloscope. T-SEK is a Sono-Tek partner.

Low-velocity mist allows for precision.

Sono-Tek’s website explains: “The low-velocity mist created by the ultrasonic nozzle is typically accompanied by additional low velocity air shaping devices to entrain the spray and direct it toward a substrate. This allows precise control of the spray into fine lines, conical patterns, or wide flat fan shapes.”

Partnership with T-SEC

At Sono-Tek, when working with sprayed film materials, such as the type silver nanowires deliver, it is important for scientists, engineers, and researchers, not to mention the clients, to be able to test if the delivered film was applied correctly.

All of Sono-Tek’s clients come to them for one form of a coating solution or another, but many clients also come for untried, new solutions.

Through a partnership with T-SEC, Sono-Tek is able to offer an enhanced testing and characterization lab experience because of key pieces of testing and characterization equipment T-SEC has loaned to Sono-Tek, including the SEM.