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Brought to you by Jo Galloway.

Materials in a Mobile Phone – Families

A video that uses optical microscopy and the periodic table to explore the materials from Nature that are used to build the components of your mobile phone.

Suggested age range: 11-14, 14-16, 16-18

In the video:

00:00-03:50 – Introduction

03:50-06:50 – What is a phone made of? > 38 common and uncommon elements that are used to make a mobile phone on the periodic table.

06:50-11:50The screen. Optical microscopy of the pixels in white light and individual colours.

11:50-14:30Shuttering and how the pixels work. Polarisation of light.

14:30-21:50Liquid crystals. Optical microscopy of crystals in between crossed polars, a liquid crystal molecule.

21:50-27:40Putting it all together in your phone screen. Sandwich construction from bottom up = light source, polariser, liquid crystal, crossed polariser. Effect of electricity on liquid crystal in pixels and how that affects light.

27:40-28:30 – Polarising sunglasses. Stop you seeing a screen well because of polarising lenses.

28:30-35:25Touch sensitive screen. Capacitive touch sensitivity / detectors in optically transparent yet conductive indium tin oxide.

35:25-40:20The vibration alert motor. Neodymium electromagnet and some coils of wire. Applying current creates a magnetic field that spins the part of the device that contains the coils, making the vibration.

40:20-41:50Phone camera. Lens system contains a coil of copper wire and neodymium magnets to focus light on the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) light sensitive detector.

41:05-48:08Wrapping up, thank yous and Q & A

Using the resource at home

This video could be used to start a discussion about:

  • How many devices in our homes use colour displays.
  • Discuss career opportunities in materials development and device design
  • Discussion about why you need a new phone and how often you need to replace them (and why)?
  • Discussion about functionality about parents’ mobile phones and their functionality.