Kindles Ruined By Airport Scanners

Holiday travelers, beware!  According to the Telegraph UK, airport X-ray scanners are rough on Kindles:

Electronic ink screens use thousands of tiny capsules filled with magnetic black and white particles to display text and pictures.

It is controlled by applying a small voltage across the capsules, which sends either the positively charge white particles or the negatively charged black particles to the front. They stay in place until the next time a voltage is applied, which allows the Kindle battery to last for much longer than in gadgets that use LCD screens, such as the iPad.

“A static charge from an airport scanner could be 100 volts or more,” said Professor Chu. “That could permanently stick the particles to the screen.”

via Telegraph UK





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11 Responses to Kindles Ruined By Airport Scanners

  1. If there's enough static charge to discharge through your device, it's likely to be much higher charge than 100 volts (High voltage, miniscule amperage), same as rubbing your feet on the carpet. You're also just as likely to cause such a discharge yourself by building up a charge walking around with your backpack, then bumping the zipper of the pack into something.

    Note that the charge buildup we are talking about has nothing to do with the machine itself, it's the rubber belt the pack is riding on (per the article).

    Thousands of e-readers go through these scanners every day, and I'm willing to bet thousands of devices are subjected to static discharge >100V through various means every day (usually discharging through the circuitry or frame). I can see it causing a problem on rare occasion, but if it were we'd hear about a lot more cases. This seems like more of a thought experiment than a PSA.

    • Yeah, x-rays aren't magnetic – they're high-energy particles (and not electric energy).
      You be surprised how easy it is to build up a 100V charge(volts=amps*resistance). Amps is the number of electrons in a charge (1 amp=1 Coulomb=6.241509745 x 10^18 electrons), and resistance is the difficultly that charge will face passing through a material. 100V can be obtained with a 1Amp charge passing through a material with a total of 100Ohms of resistance (ohms being the unit of resistance).
      If this charge is coming from anywhere, it's that rubber belt all your stuff travels on. Buy your kindle a Neoprene sleeve, and not only will it always be kept dry, but because Neoprene's low-conductivity it charges are more likely to go around it in their search for a ground (though if one does go through – it will result in a massive voltage most likely. But that would take a very large charge, probably on the order of 20+ Amps – not common for a natural charge short of lightening).
      Again, volts isn't energy. In terms of the "water pipe" analogy, volts is pressure, resistance is pipe diameter (high resistance=narrow pipe), and Amps is flow-rate.
      It's always Amps you have to watch out for.

  2. I dont doubt the acuracy of the study but the film you peel from the front of the device when you first open it will produce more than 500 volts of static charge while this will no doubt damage an exposed pcb I would think the screens will be safe.

  3. geeks are accurate. your title is "kindles ruined by airport scanners" the article says no, they're not. just grabbing eyes with a headline?!! wtf!

  4. Unless these are some sort of new scanners I haven't used, my Kindle and my husband's have been through x-ray scanners at airports multiple times, and they are just fine.