Self-Insulating Underwater Electrical Connector

Novel electrical contacts remove the need for seals, oil or other devices to prevent seawater from touching live contacts.

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Northrop Grumman

Researchers with Northrop Grumman Corp. have invented a novel underwater and water-tolerant electrical connector that will not corrode or short out the electrical components using it.

The metal of the contacts grows a thin but effective layer of insulation through a reaction with the water that it is exposed to. This thin insulating layer is scraped off when the connector halves are mated, allowing direct metal-to-metal contact between the connector halves, and reforms in milliseconds when the connector is de-mated.

Besides eliminating the need for seals or oil to keep water off of the electrical contacts, this new, patented technology can provide a nearly-infinite number of mate and de-mate cycles while preventing electrical shocks.

The first commercial-style connector using this concept has just been produced, and licensees are being sought to produce these connectors for the commercial market.

This technology has been demonstrated to simultaneously pass power up to 2500 watts and HD video data at up to 80 Mbps, all while directly exposed under seawater.

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