Apple patent application details the use of Sapphire in electronic devices


Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that gives us insight into how the company may use Sapphire glass in the future. In its “Attachment techniques,” Apple describes how sapphire may be securely fastened to an electronic device.

Though much of the patent focuses on attachment methods, it does describe potential uses of sapphire in electronic devices. Theres a mention of Apple’s use of sapphire today as a cover for its camera module in the iPhone. Apple also describes how sapphire could be used as a cover glass for a capacitive touchscreen display. This cover would attach to a portable device frame much in the way the company now uses Corning Gorilla Glass. The patent also explains how the thermal conductivity properties of Sapphire make it suitable as heat sink for a processor.

[0025] With particular reference to sapphire, the presently discussed techniques allows the effective use of sapphire in a variety of different applications without the risks associated with conventional attachment techniques. For example, sapphire may effectively be attached to a frame of a mobile computing device as a cover glass for a display screen. Additionally, as sapphire’s thermal conductivity is on the order of metals, it may effectively be implemented as a heat spreader. That is, sapphire may be attached both mechanically and thermally to a processor. More specifically, a sapphire substrate may be used as a processor mount to dissipate heat generated by the processor.

[0026] Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B, an example mobile computing device 100 is illustrated. The mobile computing device 100 includes a first side 102 that may include a transparent cover 104. In some embodiments, the transparent cover 104 may take the form of a sapphire sheet, a sapphire sheet with a glass laminate layer, a plastic, or other suitable material, through which a visual output of the device 100 is output. Additionally, the cover 104 may be configured to receive input from users via a capacitive sensor, for example. A second side 106 (FIG. 1B) of the mobile computing device 100 includes a camera with a cover 108. As with the transparent cover 104 of the first side 102, the cover 108 may take any suitable form, such a sapphire.

This patent gives us insight into how Apple may use Sapphire in the future, but these examples are proposed usage scenarios and not a product roadmap. One thing is certain — with its acquisition of an Arizona production plant and its partnership with GT Advanced, Apple is investing heavily in the production of the material.

[Via AppleInsider]