Apple Invents a Method to Further Strengthen Glass Display Covers and Housings of iDevices from Damage
A part of Apple's marketing for the iPhone 11 Pro was to emphasize its glass. Apple's webpage marketing states "Creating tougher glass isn't rocket science. It's molecular science." For added strength Apple introduced a dual ion-exchange process. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple relates to further strengthening both the cover display and structural housing glass of future iPhones and other devices like a possible future all-glass iMac.
Spiral Grain Coatings for the iPhone's Glass Structure
The first patent application from Apple generally relates to coatings, and, more particularly, to coatings for glass structures in electronic devices like the iPhone, or future iMac and the display for Apple Watch.
Apple notes that while it may be desirable to coat glass structures with anti-scratch and anti-reflection coatings, they create stress concentrations that make the glass structure susceptible to breakage. If care is not taken, glass structures may be susceptible to cracking when subjected to elevated stress during an unintended drop event.
With Apple places importance on glass for iPhones these days, Apple's invention takes another approach to strengthening structural glass. The housing may have a transparent portion such as a glass layer that forms a display cover layer on a front face of the device.
Apple notes that thin-film coating layers may be deposited on the housing using physical vapor deposition or other deposition techniques. The coating layers may be transparent coatings that form anti-reflection layers, anti-scratch layers, opaque layers that may be patterned to form logos, text, or other visual elements, and/or other coating layers.
To prevent damage to a glass structure in the event that the electronic device is dropped or otherwise subjected to stress, the coating layers on the glass structures of the electronic device may formed from polycrystalline materials in which grains have been grown in an interlaced spiral configuration.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device of the type that may include a glass structure with a coating; FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative system for forming coatings with spiral grain structures.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 above is a top view of illustrative interlaced spiral grains in a coating; and FIG. 6 is a side view of an illustrative spiral grain in a coating layer.
Apple's patent application 20200181007 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.