Electric Gadgets and Giant Squid

mobile phone

How do you go from protecting electronics to preserving a giant squid?

Imagine playing a video on your computer or calling your mobile phone while they’re submerged in a curious liquid that looks like water…or having the confidence to dunk your irreplaceable family photos in this mysterious fluid. Surprisingly, all would emerge unscathed. That’s because 3M scientists invented a unique type of chemistry - 3M™ Novec™ brand fluids - that doesn’t harm devices or memorable treasures. In fact, in many instances, it’s used to protect them. There is no sleight of hand; this is 3M innovation at work. This seemingly magical fluid is virtually harmless to electronic devices and evaporates completely without a trace of dampness or residue. It is no wonder then, that Novec fluid is used to extinguish fires safely in places that house our American treasures - places like the Alamo and the Library of Congress. The fluid is even used to protect Benjamin Franklin’s library - and the PA State Assembly Bible, used to swear in the Speaker of the House.

Beyond the museums and archives, you are likely to encounter 3M Novec fluids every day. This chemistry makes our love affair with electronic gadgets possible. It’s used to clean electronic devices and to minimise heat produced by our computers and phones.

But innovation applies to all things big and small, so it’s no wonder that the miraculous fluid used for that gadget in your pocket is also being applied to something as big as…a giant squid.

If you pay a visit to the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., you’ll easily encounter both wide-eyed children and adults alike who are awestruck when they see the 24-foot-long squid displayed in an enormous tank, neatly preserved by Novec chemistry. It is the magic of innovation that lets museum visitors view the giant specimen clearly because, unlike alcohol, Novec fluid does not yellow or discolour the specimen.

The curious journey of 3M Novec chemistry from electronics manufacturing to fire suppression is one that will continue. In fact, the fluid is even used in the manufacturing of orthopaedic implants. Many of us have loved ones who are walking around with a titanium hip due to hip replacement surgery. Orthopaedic implant device makers often use Novec fluid to clean them, since it provides precision cleaning and leaves no residue.

The power of innovation is such that one simple idea can affect our daily lives in many significant ways. Finding the right application, well, that’s just a matter of chemistry.