A few years back, in 2010, Apple purchased the exclusive rights to use metal alloys manufactured by Liquidmetal Technologies, a company known for its strong Liquidmetal alloys. At the time, it was speculated that Apple could be using this new Liquidmetal technology for the body of the iPhone, and the rumor has actually stuck around for quite some time. However, today, a new report is claiming that Liquidmetal alloys will finally be implemented in Apple’s iPhone, although it won’t be for the body of the device.
The new report claims that the super strong and light alloys may be used for Apple’s new home buttons, touch sensors, and screws used in devices. While the Liquidmetal alloy has only been used once on an Apple product, the SIM tray ejector tool with the iPhone 3G, Apple has shown a continued interest in the technology, as proven by multiple patent filings over the past few years, including one to mass produce Liqidmetal. Below is an excerpt of yet another patent filing, discussing the use of Liquidmetal alloy for home buttons for Apple devices.
Because switches on consumer electronic devices are operated frequently, the materials used to fabricate the switch must be capable of repeated deformation and return to their original configuration. The ability of a material to deform reversibly under stress is known as the material’s elasticity. Above a certain stress, known as the elastic limit of a material or the yield strength, the metal material may deform irreversibly, becoming inelastic, exhibiting plasticity and adversely affecting the function and utility of the switch. [...]
A proposed solution according to embodiments herein for pressure sensors is to use bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys as the deformable material, and to measure the pressure based on the physical changes of the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy as it is deformed.
There are also other patents relating to the use of the metal alloy for other components of Apple devices such as touch sensors, as well as screws that would be tamper resistant for the device. It is also worth noting that these patents were all filed in mid-2012 meaning that it is possible that the company is getting closer to putting these new discoveries to use in an upcoming device.
What do you think about the possibility of Apple’s use of Liquidmetal in iPhones? Do you like the idea of an ultra strong and light alloy for home buttons? Sound off below, or send me a tweet at @TiP_Griffin.