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Apple has filed a patent with the US Patent and Trade Office, titled “ Electronic Devices with Sapphire-Coated Substrates”, detailing a resistant sapphire coating for displays in a variety of Apple devices. The application, which was filed in February 2016, includes patent figures that resemble an iPhone, a Mac, and iPad. According to Patently Apple, the patent strongly suggests that the technology will be used in organic light emitting diode (OLED) displays, the likes of which Apple will begin shipping in 2017.
The coating itself is a laser-annealed sapphire substance applied on top of a glass substrate that renders it hard and scratch resistant. It is formed by coating glass with a thin film of amorphous aluminum oxide or aluminum oxygen nitride and heating it with a laser until it hardens into sapphire. This forms an outer display layer that will most likely be placed on top of 2017’s iPhone 8 OLED display, among other upcoming Apple devices.
Apple has a long and ongoing history of innovating and tinkering with sapphire, which is the second-hardest material after diamond, for its watch, computer, and phone displays. It recently terminated its partnership with the now-bankrupt GT Advanced Technologies and has turned to Russian-firm Monocrystal for its sapphire display needs. Monocrystal, unlike any of its competitors, has managed to use proprietary technology to grow the world’s largest sapphire, which weighs 300 pounds, according to iDownloadBlog.
As of now, the patent has yet to be approved and the exact time frame in which devices that incorporate this sapphire-coating technology will be commercially available is unknown.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]