or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple tips hand on sapphire displays with patent for oleophobic coatings
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple tips hand on sapphire displays with patent for oleophobic coatings

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
While Apple remains coy about plans to incorporate sapphire into its product lineup, a new patent application published on Thursday suggests the company is at the least experimenting with the hard material for use in touch-capable 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.

Aside from the illustration of an iPhone on the filing's cover page, Apple's document makes repeated mention of sapphire displays in phones, tablets and other portable devices.

Specifically, the filing describes in detail the methods by which an oleophobic, or oil-repelling, coating can be applied to a sapphire slab prior to installation in a mobile device. Oleophobic coatings were first used by Apple with the iPhone 3GS in an attempt to counter the buildup of oil and other detritus inevitable with a touchscreen display.

Since then, iPhone and iPad models have all come with the repellent coating, though methods of application used for Gorilla Glass do not necessarily apply to a material like sapphire. For example, Apple points out that normal bonding techniques may not work with sapphire or sapphire glass because of its crystal structure.

The document also notes certain coatings and oleophobic treatments do not fair well when applied directly to sapphire glass. Abrasion tests have shown some coatings and treatments last for a "lower number of abrasive cycles when applied to sapphire glass and other alumina-based base layers (e.g., less than 300 cycles), as compared to silica glass, where the coatings may not exhibit wear until a higher number of abrasive cycles (e.g., 300 cycles or more)." Additionally, the same surface treatments applied to a silica substrate may exhibit wear at an even lower number of cycles when a transition layer is not present.

To address this issue, Apple proposes a transitional layer be disposed between the base substrate and the oleophobic coating. Further, a surface layer may be composed of alumina, silica or a combination of the two.

Oleophobic
Source: USPTO


In one embodiment, the transitional layer consists of a combination of base layer materials and other components like alumina-silica glass, a form of which is marketed by Corning as Gorilla Glass. The layer is applied via a sputtering process, physical or vapor deposition (PVP or CVP), or other suitable method. The surface and oleophobic layers may likewise be applied using the same processes.

Apple notes the end result of this sapphire-transitional layer-surface layer sandwich is a largely continuous and uniform structure that retains the benefits of sapphire's hardness, while allowing for the operable application of an oleophobic coating.

It is unknown if Apple will use sapphire as a display material in its upcoming iPhone and iPad lineups, but the invention outlined in Thursday's filing overcomes a major hurdle standing in the way of mass consumption.

In November, Apple signed a $578 million deal with sapphire producer GT Advanced Technologies to supply the super hard material for an as-yet-unseen product component. Many analysts and insiders speculate the partnership, which birthed a dedicated sapphire plant in Arizona, will inevitably lead to sapphire displays.

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.
post #2 of 14
SO:

iPhone 6 -> sapphire display
iPhone 7 -> sapphire display with oleophobic coating
iPhone 8 -> another kind of display
iPhone 8 -> another kind of display with oleophobic coating
...
post #3 of 14

What does an 'abrasive cycle' mean? If something lasts for 300 'abrasive cycles', what does that mean for practical usage?

post #4 of 14
The lens surface of the iP 5 is hard to smudge. It already has a coating.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by enzos View Post

The lens surface of the iP 5 is hard to smudge. It already has a coating.

Yes it does, but it seems like the coating doesn’t play nice with sapphire.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #6 of 14

Apple doesn't innovate.

 

/s

For your sake, I hope you're right.
Reply
For your sake, I hope you're right.
Reply
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The document also notes certain coatings and oleophobic treatments do not fair well when applied directly to sapphire glass.

But the coatings will be more durable if they fare well. 1wink.gif

I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

Reply

I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

Reply
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post
 

What does an 'abrasive cycle' mean? If something lasts for 300 'abrasive cycles', what does that mean for practical usage?

A cleaning.

post #9 of 14
I can't wait for sapphire displays. For such an almost-perfect object as an iPhone, having even a small scratch can be extremely frustrating. I recently did a 1 inch scratch on my 5S while cleaning it with a cloth. There must have been a micro dust of sand or whatever. Fortunately, it's really a very very light scratch, only visible at a certain angle, and I don't see it if I don't look for it. Still, it's a terrible first world problem!

Also interesting to see that 300 is the average number of cycles for the coating.
I wonder if putting the phone in a pocket counts as a cycle, as the surface enters in contact with the fabric.
post #10 of 14
Am thinking the leap from camera lenses to wearable band device screesn is the most likely first one.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
Reply
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
Reply
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Am thinking the leap from camera lenses to wearable band device screesn is the most likely first one.

Didn't GT Advanced Technology already have a production plant out at Mesa? Either way I see your point but Apple could set an example by shunning all states/cities with bad policies or work to fix them. For a lack of a better example didn't Jesus do the latter?

This bot has been removed from circulation due to a malfunctioning morality chip.

Reply

This bot has been removed from circulation due to a malfunctioning morality chip.

Reply
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post

What does an 'abrasive cycle' mean? If something lasts for 300 'abrasive cycles', what does that mean for practical usage?
I thought an abrasion cycle is one day of use, as our fingers are basically high grade sandpaper, like my phone no longer has the coating because of use, it's past the maximum cycle.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

I can't wait for sapphire displays. For such an almost-perfect object as an iPhone, having even a small scratch can be extremely frustrating. I recently did a 1 inch scratch on my 5S while cleaning it with a cloth. There must have been a micro dust of sand or whatever. Fortunately, it's really a very very light scratch, only visible at a certain angle, and I don't see it if I don't look for it. Still, it's a terrible first world problem!

 

Although sapphire would be tough to scratch I wonder if the coating layer itself is visibly scratchable. And if so then what's the point?

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason98 View Post
 

 

Although sapphire would be tough to scratch I wonder if the coating layer itself is visibly scratchable. And if so then what's the point?

 

I wonder, maybe that's what I've actually scratched on my 5S. The point would be to avoid big scratches. As long as someone does scratch it to a diamond ring, it should be fine.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple tips hand on sapphire displays with patent for oleophobic coatings