Apple has a new patent (via AppleInsider) that could help explain leaked videos showing a front screen material that is incredibly durable, and resistant to bending, scratching and shattering. The screen is thought to be based on manufactured sapphire, a material that has a toughness rating above glass, but a new patent reveals how Apple might be stacking the odds in its favor with a process to make it even stronger.
The patent describes a way to mimic the same kind of strengthening effects used on glass (through chemical coatings, mostly, as exemplified by Corning’s Gorilla Glass), but with an alternate “ion implanting” method that works on material like sapphire, with which the existing methods aren’t necessarily going to work.
The process uses a similar technique to the one Apple currently employs to color its black bezels on iPhones, which works via implanted ions put directly into the display glass itself. The ions, when implanted in the way Apple describes, could tint the glass, so using them in areas where the company wants specifically to create a different-colored area would make the most sense, and would still provide some crack resistance, in the case of incidents like a dropped phone (phones often suffer the worst cracks when they fall on their corners).
As we near the launch of the next iPhone, one of the big questions on everyone’s mind will be whether Apple does indeed employ sapphire in its new devices to make them extra durable. We’ll be on hand to find out next Tuesday, when Apple unveils at least new phones, and likely a new wearable, too.