Apple Details Uses for Sapphire Glass in New Patent Application

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    An Apple patent application detailing methods of using and mounting sapphire to mobile devices was published today by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, reports AppleInsider. Entitled "Attachment Techniques", the application describes a system in which sapphire could act a display's cover glass, and also gives insight as to how the material could be used to dissipate heat generated by a device.

    The patent application introduces itself by describing the difficulty in attaching sapphire to existing materials, and also notes the current implementation of sapphire as a cover for the rear camera on the iPhone. Apple suggests effective methods for using sapphire as a cover glass would involve creating an aperture within a sapphire substrate, and then using a second material with a lower melting point like metal or plastic to pour into the aperture. The joining of the substrate and the filling of the second material would then act as attachment point for other materials that can be welded, soldered, or secured.

    Apple also describes how sapphire could be used as a heat spreader because of the similarity in the material's thermal conductivity levels to that of metals. Apple further states that sapphire could be attached mechanically and thermally to a processor to dissipate heat.

    Presently, Apple uses small pieces of sapphire glass to protect the cameras on the iPhone and on the home button for the Touch ID-equipped iPhone 5s. However, the company has also shown a strong interest in perhaps expanding its use of the material in its products, announcing plans last November to build a sapphire glass manufacturing plant in Arizona. GT Advanced, Apple's manufacturing partner for the plant, also sent out postcards to local residents this week advertising for open positions at the new facility.

    A report from June 2013 also stated that Apple experimented with sapphire crystal displays but found them infeasible, with Vertu COO Perry Oosting stating that Apple felt that the material was unsuitable for production in the numbers that Apple required. It was reported last March that future smartphone displays may use sapphire instead of glass, with all major mobile phone said to be considering the use of the material.

    The patent application, which was originally filed on July 19, 2012 and published today, lists Dale N. Memering, Matthew D. Hill, Christopher D. Prest, David A. Pakula, Tang Yew Tan, Stephen B. Lynch, and Fletcher Rothkopf as its inventors. As with all of Apple's patents and patent applications, it is unclear when and if the exact technology described will make it into a final product.

    Article Link: Apple Details Uses for Sapphire Glass in New Patent Application
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Lets hope this makes iPad screens that much more durable. I find my rMini's screen to be very thin
  3. Mustard Seed macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2004

    The second material could be the liquidmetal alloy they've been researching.
  4. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    My wife ran over her iP5 in a Mazda3 - and it survived. Big scratches to the back, but that little lens cover held strong.

    That sapphire glass is no marketing gimmick.
  5. WasBeen macrumors newbie

    Feb 7, 2011
    UK, near London
    I second that thought

    ....yep, liquid metal, I'd bet on it.
  6. moxin macrumors regular


    Feb 25, 2011
    hummm, curved screen? edge to edge? This could be anything.
  7. Nozuka macrumors 6502a

    Jul 3, 2012
    My 10 year old watch with saphhire glass still has no scratches on the glass.
    I was not carefull at all...
  8. Takeo macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2004
    So... Apple just patented the dove tail joint? ;)
  9. jouster macrumors 65816

    Jan 21, 2002
    Those Mazdas are stronger than they look.
  10. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    that is interesting, apple could come back to the iphone 4 design for the iphone 6 with sapphire glass front and back.
  11. Thunderhawks macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2009
    This just in:
    SAMSUNG application designer just made 200 sketches of a sapphire lens.
  12. tigertazz macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2009
    And the cost goes up.......
    iFixit repair ability score 0. LOL
  13. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Seems someone didn't own a watch with sapphire glass.

    When did Apple actually increased the price of iPhone? Did the iPhone 5s with finger print scanner "cost" more than the iPhone 5 launch price?
  14. Gudi macrumors 68020


    May 3, 2013
    Berlin, Berlin
    Apple might have found the perfect cellphone casing material (finally).

    – scratch resistant
    – unbreakable
    – signal transparent
    – heat spreading

    Sorry iPhone 3, 4 and 5 owners, but you had to act as our guinea pigs. Now we know that plastic, glas and aluminum aren't the right materials. :D
  15. AppleWarMachine macrumors 6502a


    Sep 27, 2011
    Michigan, US
    Mine too :D (but it's only 5 years old)
  16. NachoGrande macrumors 6502a

    Mar 30, 2010
  17. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Mine is slightly older, and no scratches on the glass. The only time I took it off for work when I had to use a jackhammer to break up a few square meters of concrete.


    You've never bought a good watch, have you?
  18. 69Mustang macrumors 601


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    Although I applaud your enthusiasm, and sapphire is a great material, unbreakable is not one of it's properties. That is just a bit of hyperbole.
  19. Gudi macrumors 68020


    May 3, 2013
    Berlin, Berlin
    Is it significantly less breakable under the same circumstances the iPhone 4 glass shattered?
    That's all I'm asking for. :confused:

    If it is thinner and lighter the reduced weight alone might help to prevent fatal accidents.
  20. 69Mustang macrumors 601


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    I feel like I am attacking you and I promise I'm not. Is it less breakable? Yes, according to everything I've read. Less breakable is not unbreakable; which you said in your original post.

    "... might help prevent fatal accidents." More hyperbole. What fatal accidents? I am not sure what point you're trying to make. We both agree the sapphire could possibly be a great thing for Apple. Projecting miracle status on the material is not necessary.

    I am going to switch to decaf. Maybe that will change my mood. Sorry:eek:
  21. kdarling macrumors demi-god


    Jun 9, 2007
    Cabin by a lake
    Note that watch crystals are much thicker than smartphone glass layers.

    A good sapphire watch crystal is about 5mm thick, so it won't shatter if dropped.

    The Gorilla Glass 2 used to protect smartphone displays is only 0.8mm thick. That's about six times thinner. GG is also 1/2 the weight and 1/10th the cost.

    All that said, hasn't Apple been filing patents about bonding very thin sapphire to glass? Sapphire for scratch resistance, glass for price and thickness reduction, and the duo for strength?
  22. Four oF NINE macrumors 68000

    Four oF NINE

    Sep 28, 2011
    Hell's Kitchen
    My wristwatch has a sapphire crystal lens and there's not a single scratch on it.
    It's about 15 years old now.
  23. mdelvecchio macrumors 68030


    Sep 3, 2010
    yes, so ridiculous because it's so obvious and everyone's doing it. when's the innovation begin?

    etc, etc. puhleez.
  24. TMay macrumors 68000

    Dec 24, 2001
    Carson City, NV
    Apple first drives down the price of sapphire by being a partner to volume production. Corning might get an exclusive contract from Apple, limited in timeframe and scope, to produce what you are describing. At some point, wouldn't Apple want to just own display manufacturing outright?

    What's next? Metal matrix composites?

    This is an advantage of Apple, Samsung and Sony; they have interest in materials science, in Apple's case, driven by Jony's need for new materials to work with.
  25. Gudi macrumors 68020


    May 3, 2013
    Berlin, Berlin
    Correcting someones inaccuracies, can never be wrong. You are not attacking me personally, but what I've written. That is perfectly fine and even necessary.
    A harder material like glass is harder to scratch and easier to break compared to a softer material like aluminum, which is easier to scratch but harder to break. When glas shatters the damage is arguably more severe than a simple scratch, especially when the display is glued to the front panel and needs to be replaced as well. So ideally you want a material that doesn't scratch and doesn't break. Sapphire could be the answer, I hope.
    Don't. I'm the one mixing up less breakable and unbreakable. I'm sorry. :)

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