Apple Invents a Folding Device that includes a Layer of Self-Healing Material that could make dents & scratches on the cover disappear
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a folding iDevice that includes a layer with self-healing properties. The display cover layer may include a layer of elastomer in the flexible region of the display cover layer for increased flexibility. Self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.
Apple notes that this possible future electronic device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis. A display may span the bend axis. To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage, the display may include a display cover layer with a flexible portion. The flexible portion of the display cover layer may be interposed between first and second rigid portions of the display cover layer in one example.
During operation of an electronic device, the display cover layer for the electronic device may be scratched or dented. To improve the aesthetics of the electronic device, it may be desirable for the presence of scratches and dents to be minimized. To help mitigate the number of dents, scratches, or other imperfections in a display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a layer of self-healing material.
The layer of self-healing material may be formed across the entire display cover layer or may be formed only in the flexible region of the display cover layer. The display cover layer may include a layer of elastomer in the flexible region of the display cover layer for increased flexibility. The layer of self-healing material may cover the layer of elastomer in the flexible region.
Self-healing may occur in the layer of self-healing material without prompting (e.g., when the self-healing coating is dented, the material of the coating may fill the dent even without external intervention). Alternatively, the self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.
When heat is used as a stimulus for the self-healing process, the display cover layer may include transparent conductors that form a heating layer in the display cover layer. The heating layer may be used to generate heat to stimulate self-healing. The heating layer may be used to generate heat in response to user input, according to a predetermined schedule, or when the electronic device is charging.
To promote flexibility in the display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a transparent dielectric layer with slits. The slits may be filled with an index-matching material.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is general graphic representing a device that appears like a foldable iPhone, though Apple states that it could be an iPad or a MacBook; FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional side view of a display that includes a display cover layer with a layer of self-healing material; FIG. 18 is a top view of an illustrative transparent dielectric layer including slits.
Apple adds that the transparent dielectric layer (#62-2) may have a plurality of slits #82 (which may sometimes be referred to as holes, recesses, grooves, openings, etc.) in flexible portion #24B to increase the flexibility of the display cover layer. Because transparent dielectric layer has a pattern of slits in the flexible portion of the display cover glass, the transparent dielectric layer may sometimes be referred to as a patterned transparent dielectric layer or a patterned glass layer.
Apple's patent application 20200313111 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back January 2020. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.