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Apple patent reveals the use of Glass enclosures with Metal Nanoparticles for the iPhone, Apple Watch, Macs and more


Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a patent application from Apple that relates to  electronic devices (iPhone, Apple Watch and Macs) having a ceramic-reinforced composite enclosure component that includes a porous ceramic structure in a glass-based matrix that includes metal nanoparticles.

In Apple's patent background they note that some modern day portable electronic devices may include a wireless communication system and/or a wireless charging system. Typically, such wireless communication and/or charging systems are positioned within the enclosure of the electronic device. Embodiments described in this patent filing are directed to electronic devices that include ceramic-reinforced composite enclosure components that include a porous ceramic structure. The composite enclosure components described may have advantages as compared to some traditional electronic device enclosures.

Apple's invention relate to a composite enclosure component for an electronic device. The composite enclosure component may be a composite housing component that defines at least a portion of side and rear surfaces of the electronic device. The composite enclosure component is formed at least in part from a composite material and may include at least one coloring agent.

In some embodiments, the composite material includes a porous ceramic structure at least partially embedded in a glass-based matrix. For example, the glass-based matrix may comprise a glass material and a set of nanoparticles embedded in the glass material. In some instances, the nanoparticles are metallic nanoparticles configured to impart a color to the glass-based matrix. The porous ceramic structure may reinforce the composite material and may have three-dimensional (3-D) network structure.

The composite enclosure components may have both particular electromagnetic properties and impact resistance.

For example, all or part of the enclosure component may be configured to have dielectric properties suitable for use over a component of a wireless communication system.

In addition, all or part of the enclosure component may be configured to have properties suitable for use over a component of a wireless charging system.

Furthermore, the composite enclosure components may have particular optical properties such as a color value, a transmission value, an absorption value, or a refractive index.

In some embodiments the composite materials described can provide a balance between toughness and dielectric properties in order to obtain a composite enclosure component that is acceptable for use with internal components of a wireless communication and/or charging system.

While Apple's patent could apply to the backside of an iPhone and Apple Watch, Apple notes that the composite enclosure could also to an iPad, smart speakers, a future MacBook and/or iMac. This would support Apple's patents on a glass iMac and Glass MacBook.


Apple's Materials Engineers commentary on his LinkedIn profile would indicate that Apple may have begun to utilize this process, starting with iPhone 15. Apple's patents for a glass MacBook and iMac would certainly apply the process discussed in this latest patent filing. 

Apple Inventors 

  • Weidi Zhu: Materials Engineer. Zhu notes on his LinkedIn profile that he worked on color-infused glass for the iPhone 15.
  • Que Anh Nguyen: Senior Manager, Materials Product Design at Apple
  • Andi limarga: manager, materials product design


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