Apple continues to remain coy about their plans for the sapphire glass that will be manufactured in their new Mesa, AZ plant. However, a new patent applications suggests the company is looking at the ultra-tough material for use in touchscreen displays.
Apple’s “Oleophobic coating on sapphire” patent application represents some of the first hard evidence that the Cupertino, Calif. company is looking to include sapphire in its iPhone lineup.
Apple includes an illustration of an iPhone on the filing’s cover page, and makes repeated mention of the use of sapphire displays in portable devices, such as phones and tablets.
The filing describes in detail the methods of applying an oleophobic, or oil-repelling, coating to a sapphire slab prior to its installation in a mobile device. Oleophobic coatings are used to counter the build up of oil and other debris on a touchscreen display.
Currently Apple uses Corning’s Gorilla Glass on its devices, and the application points out that the bonding techniques used with that material may not work with sapphire based products because of its crystal structure.
The document also notes that some coatings and treatments don’t last as long when used with sapphire glass. Apple proposes to address the issue by adding a layer between the glass and the oleophobic coating.
It is still unknown if Apple will use sapphire as a display material in its upcoming mobile devices, but the patent filing certainly shows they are exploring its uses.
Apple’s oleophobic coatings for sapphire patent application was first filed for in September of 2013 and credits Douglas Weber and Naoto Matsuyuki as its inventors.