A patent application published by the United States patent & Trademark Office on Thursday has revealed a new material for the backside of an iPhone. The material is said to be liquid metal.
The patent background states that metallic glasses (amorphous alloys and glass alloys) are metallic alloys that don’t possess a crystalline structure like other metals when in their solid state. Their atoms are instead disordered, giving them an amorphous structure.
Metallic glasses with distinct cosmetic properties are difficult to design and in general are difficult to use as a surface coating. Apple seems to have solved that problem with what is called micro-alloying. The metallic glass coating is applied on a metal substrate to form a metallic glass coated surface. Then pulsed radiation is applied to the coated surface to join the metal glass to the metal substrate thereby forming a metallic glass with an altered chemical composition.
In the patent, the image of a device with a micro-alloyed metallic glass coated metal substrate is included. There are rumors that the iPhone 8 will have a glass back and also have wireless charging. Since the only materials that support wireless charging are plastic, ceramic and glass. The last two are fragile and plastic is out of it, so it makes sense to use a stronger material like metallic glass.
There is no confirmation that the material will show up on the iPhone 8. The patent application was filed in Q3 2016 but we want to hope it does. Last year we saw the patent application for Apple’s Touch Bar technology and it made its way to the new MacBook Pro.