While you were relaxing this past weekend, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was hard at work granting 59 patents for Apple. And among those patents was one for LiquidMetal, an alloy that has been rumoured to be used for future iPhones.
LiquidMetal is incredibly strong and durable and has a similar atomic structure to glass. It looks kind of like stainless steel with a silvery grey metallic colour. And since it is resistant to scratches and corrosion, it would be a great contender for phone cases and frames.
While Apple has had the rights to LiquidMetal since 2010, it has yet to include the material in anything beyond the SIM card ejector pin. But now that Apple has been granted a patent for the alloy, as Apple Insider reported, this could soon change. The patent also comes right after Apple renewed the exclusive rights to LiquidMetal until 2015.
The patent lays out the specifics of “methods and systems for integrally trapping a glass insert in a metal bezel,” or what could one day be a way to make stronger iPhones. On top of the LiquidMetal alloy, the patent also discusses a new kind of display glass that would include sapphire.
MIT’s technology review, “Sapphire is harder than any other natural material except diamond.” And it’s three times stronger and scratch resistant than Gorilla Glass, which is what Apple uses on iPhones now. By forming the glass inside LiquidMetal, Apple could be able to lessen damage after dropping a phone.
Earlier this year, Apple reportedly bought enough sapphire to make 100-200 million iPhones, so paired with the new patent approval this could be good news for future Apple devices.
Like with all patents, it is unlikely that Apple will act on these new-found rights immediately, but there is still the possibility that iPhones will one day be stronger and more durable.
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