Sapphire and Steel Have Been Assigned to Apple
Published on: 31st Jan 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
A hint that Apple could be working on an exceptionally durable screen for its next range of devices has been uncovered in a patent application.
Most high-end smartphone manufacturers rely on glass supplied by Corning for their displays as it is noted for its high resistance to scratches and damage. But even the Gorilla glass cannot withstand the occasional clumsy act by their users.
Now Apple appears to be looking to Sapphire as a possible replacement.
A patent details a method of growing sapphire sheets and then using lasers to cut them into the correct size for display covers. Apparently they need to use lasers as conventional cutting materials would blunt too quickly on the hard sapphire to make their use uneconomic.
However, lasers also tend to cut faster, and are often used in manufacturing processes, so that hardness claim may be a bluff by the company.
Apple already uses small pieces of sapphire in its phones, as the lens cover for cameras and on its fingerprint scanners. It recently invested in a sapphire production facility owned by GT Advanced Technologies in the USA to boost supplies for its components.
Apple first employed sapphire for the iSight camera lens cover in the iPhone 5 in September 2012. The company then expanded its application to the home button of the new iPhone 5s, introduced last month.
For its part, LG Electronics adopted sapphire for the camera lens cover of its Optimus G2 smartphone, introduced in September, 2013.
On the web: Apple
*The headline refers to a shortlived UK science-fiction television show, Sapphire and Steel.