by Bahram Nasehi, vp & partner with Dulles Glass and Mirror
Liquid metal (metallic glass) may be at the forefront of the next materials revolution, which means there’s a good chance we’ll see it break though at the consumer level with the next generation Apple iPhone. Here, we look into the latest iPhone5 rumours and examine how new innovations like Liquid Metal and Gorilla Glass are made, and why they’re already well on their way towards revolutionizing consumer products.Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has promised to double down on the secrecy of Apple’s products.
However, as we inch closer to the release of the new iPhone5, Apple fanboys have been talking; part manufacturers have been leaking; and rumours have been swirling.
Some of the rumours with the most credibility include a new form factor with 4 inch Gorilla Glass 2 display, a new smaller dock connector (which will give added space for better speakers), and a liquid metal-glass casing, tougher than Titanium!
Originally, the first generation iPhone almost went into production with a touchscreen made of plastic. That would have been disastrous due to the ‘scratchability’ of plastic.
Steve Jobs righted that ship in the eleventh hour, and now the future has come full-circle in the way of Corning’s ‘Gorilla Glass 2′ and potentially ‘Liquid Metal.’
Gorilla Glass 2
Gorilla Glass 2 is the glass panel made by Corning that is used in the iPhone4S and next generation models of the iPhone.
These highly damage and scratch resistant glass panels are now up to 20 per cent thinner than the original – while boasting the same toughness.
Whether it’s thinner glass, a smaller dock connector, or a smaller SIM card, much of Apple’s aim with the next generation iPhone has been to get added space to stuff more technology in that same limited space.
Corning’s Gorilla Glass is in over 750 products, which translates to over 750 million devices worldwide.
The way the glass is toughened is through a process of placing the glass in a hot molten salt bath at 400 degrees Celsius.
This creates a layer of compressed stress that is damage resistant. The only thing more extraordinary than that process is called liquid metal – aka metallic glass.
Liquid Metal (Metallic Glass)
Liquid metal on the other hand, may not only be the backing of the next iPhone housing, but it may potentially be the leader of the new materials revolution.
Liquid metal is a metal with the atomic structure of a liquid, but with more than twice the strength of Titanium.
That is two to three times the strength of conventional metals.Liquid metal also boasts the same elasticity (strain limit) as plastic. Its strength-to-weight ratio is that of twice the amount of aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel.
One of the qualities of liquid metal that makes it ideal for consumer electronics is that it can be cast-to-shape and it can provide the final finish of a product.
It’s a very versatile alloy that will be used in everything from hearing aids, computers, watches, to the next ‘iPhone’s’ of the world.
Above is a mockup illustration of the iPhone5. As mentioned on Apple rumor sites, it is expected that the next iteration of the iPhone will sport this form of ‘metallic-glass’ backing.
Between the advances in shatter resistant glass and tougher metallic casings (with liquid metal), we may soon see a next generation iPhone with shatter-proof glass and casing that would make the protective-case accessory industry obsolete.
Whatever Apple has in store for the consumer, it will without a doubt carry breaking edge technology, without the breaking glass.
About the Author
Bahram Nasehi is a vice president and partner at Dulles Glass and Mirror. He is instrumental in the development and manufacturing of custom cut glass products including wall and bathroom mirrors, vanity mirrors and glass shower doors.