Project One

Corrosion buildup while a water damaged device waits in an evidence locker

An analysis of the corrosion buildup between water retrieval and device access for data retrieval.

Research project examining the corrosion and sediment buildup on mobile phones that have been submerged in water for a defined amount of time then placed in an evidence locker until data retrieval is attempted.

As the duration of time increases that a water damaged phone waits in evidence storage to be prepared for data acquisition, the corrosion and sediment buildup increases exponentially.

Nine identical mobile phone devices will be exposed to fresh water lake submersion for 96 hours. A control device will be maintained for comparative examination. At the end of 96 hours, the devices will be retrieved and processed according to a defined schedule. Device 002 will be processed, cleaned, dried and stabilized immediately. The remaining devices (devices 003 - 010) will go into evidence storage for a period of 1, 3, 7, 14, 30, 90, and 180 days before each device is retrieved then processed, cleaned, dried and stabilized for documentation.

Water samples will be retrieved at initial submersion and device retrieval to capture the following variables - temperature, pH, TDS (total disolved solids) and EC (electrical conductivity).

Device and PCB damage will be documented with digital SLR and 20X microscope camera photographs.

Submerged duration:
96 hours

Submerged liquid:
Freshwater lake

Evidence locker hold:
1 day, 3 days, 7 days, 14 days, 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, 9 months

Expanded research:
If interest and support exists for collaboration, project can be expanded to included brackish and saltwater submersions with identical scenarios.

Current Project Status:
Final stages before research commences. Estimated start date 20 October 2014.

Help Needed:
  1. Survey input from law enforcement and government agencies with experience in water damaged mobile phones.
    • Options for survey input:
      • A brief 15 - 30 minute phone call or video conference.
      • Online form, results will be kept private among research team.
    • Input will be aggregated together and anonymized to ensure discretion for the agencies participating.
  2. Funding to cover to mobile devices that will be used for testing and lab supplies used for water damage recovery.
  3. Expanded research:
    • Funding for travel expenses to partner locations.
    • Personnel at partner locations who can assist with research.