Has Apple Invented an Unbreakable iPhone Display?

iphoneA recently uncovered patent suggests that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be considering using an alternative material for its future device displays, reports Apple Insider. Apple currently uses Corning’s (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass as the primary covering material for the iPhone and iPad displays.

However, in a patent titled “Sapphire Laminates,” Apple outlines a method for mass-producing displays made from this gemstone material that is almost as hard as diamond. One embodiment describes a method for fusing sapphire sheets together in order to create an electronic device display or display cover.

Other embodiments outlined in the patent describe methods for fusing sapphire sheets to chemically-strengthened glass sheets. Still, other embodiments describe methods for fusing two sapphire sheets with “different crystal orientations” together in order to take advantage of the different characteristics found in different sapphire planes.

Apple notes that sapphire or corundum “is extraordinarily hard,” which makes it an ideal scratch-resistant material for electronic displays. However, Apple also notes in the patent background information that sapphire’s extreme hardness makes “cutting and polishing the material both difficult and time consuming.”

Due to the prohibitive cost, Apple has previously only used sapphire crystal as a cover for essential iPhone components. For example, the rear camera lens on the iPhone 5 is protected by a sapphire crystal cover. The new Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S also uses a sapphire crystal cover.

However, Apple notes in this recently published patent that sapphire laminates can be used for “windows, mirrors, cover glass, lenses, and so forth in cameras, computers, mobile devices, watches, display devices, touch screens, and clocks among other things.” Although it is not known when Apple might begin incorporating sapphire displays into its devices, this new technology may give future iPhones a virtually unbreakable display. Here’s how Apple has traded over the past five days.

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