Helium & iPhones Don't Mix

Unusual medical event showed that helium wreaks havoc with iphones. Tiny helium atoms penetrated into the MEMS sensors & clock chip. Blimp captains should use Android phones instead.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gye4aw/why-a-helium-leak-disabled-every-iphone-in-a-medical-facility

Comments

  • I've seen this!! Interesting for sure!
  • Guess it's time for hermectic Iphones.
  • The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again.
  • erco wrote: »
    Unusual medical event showed that helium wreaks havoc with iphones. Tiny helium atoms penetrated into the MEMS sensors & clock chip. Blimp captains should use Android phones instead.

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gye4aw/why-a-helium-leak-disabled-every-iphone-in-a-medical-facility
    Don't Android phones have sensors as well? Or are they sealed better?

  • localrogerlocalroger Posts: 3,384
    edited 2020-04-23 - 21:24:13
    Per the blog post linked at the end of the article, Apple decided to use MEMS oscillators instead of quartz crystals for the main clock oscillator. Smaller, lighter, less susceptible to temperature extremes, lower power -- and don't expose them to helium.
  • I hope everyone is already subscribed to the Applied Science YouTube channel.

    He made an interesting video on this topic.

  • ercoerco Posts: 19,697
    DigitalBob wrote: »
    Guess it's time for hermectic Iphones.

    IIRC iphone 8 & later are sealed and water resistant to some degree. My daughter got an iphone 11 for Christmas, Apple says "iPhone 11 has a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes)." Whatever that means. I am skeptical though, one time she plugged it in to charge in the bathroom and got the message, "can't charge, moisture detected in charge port..." Of course helium is a tinier molecule than H20 and may get past "water resistant" seals.

    Lindsey doesn't care, she liked her iphone from the start. It was the found at the end of a long treasure hunt Christmas morning:

  • Helium is light indeed. We use it for leak detection on mass spectrometers, electron beam welders, and electron microscopes
  • FLiP also uses a SiTime oscillator. (surprised pikachu)
    How effective is the hermetic seal of MEMS oscillators?

    One of the key elements enabling extremely stable MEMS resonators is SiTime’s EpiSeal™ process which hermetically seals the resonators during wafer processing, eliminating any need for hermetically sealed ceramic packaging. SiTime’s EpiSeal resonator is impervious to the highest concentration elements in the atmosphere, nitrogen and oxygen, and therefore acts as a perfect seal. Previous generations of EpiSeal resonators may have been impacted by large concentrations of small-molecule gas. Newer EpiSeal resonators are impervious to all small-molecule gases. Please contact SiTime in case you are planning to use a SiTime device in large concentrations of small-molecule gas, so that we can recommend an appropriate, immune part.

    So I guess we have to ask SiTime if the FLiP would be affected.
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