Apple recently received a patent for cutting and processing sapphire wafers to make materials for consumer electronics, possibly for the next generation iPhone.
Sapphire is the second toughest material after diamonds and Apple appears to be replacing the Gorilla Glass with a sapphire screen soon with the recent patent it received. In fact, Apple's contract manufacturer, Foxconn reported that 100 prototypes of the iPhone 6 sporting sapphire screens were made.
Certainly, it appears that the patent that Apple recently received reveals that the Cupertino tech giant is aiming to use the sapphire glass as the screen of the next generation iPhone, which could be the iPhone 6. However, it must be noted that Apple did not mention officially that the sapphire window method will be applied to the iPhone display.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a sapphire-related Apple property relating to cutting and processing sapphire wafers for electronics purposes.
"Methods for creating sapphire windows are provided herein. In particular, one embodiment may take the form of a method of manufacturing sapphire windows. The method includes obtaining a polished sapphire wafer and applying decoration to the sapphire wafer. The method also includes cutting the sapphire wafer into discrete windows. In some embodiments, the cutting step comprises laser ablation of the sapphire," says the patent under USPTO.
Although the hardness of the sapphire makes it great for screens, cutting the material proves to be an arduous task. Apple will need powerful lasers to be able to cut the sapphire material precisely. Essentially, the patent includes the process by which Apple grows, harvests and polishes the sapphire. With the use of laser, the sapphire will be cut and then wafers will be decorated and cut into windows. Anti-fingerprint oleophobic covering or ink mask covering for printed circuit board can be incorporated to the sapphire screen when decorating polished wafers.
This is not the first time that Apple will use sapphire on its devices. In fact, at present, Apple is already using sapphire as its camera lens cover and protective glass to the fingerprint TouchID sensor of the iPhone 5s.