It’s no surprise that there’s been recent speculation about Apple’s use of sapphire in the display screen of the iPhone 6. Regardless of whether or not that happens, sapphire is a modern marvel that has interesting applications far beyond the smartphone market.
Rubicon Technology, Inc., has put together a list of things you might not know about sapphire, from the characteristics that make it so versatile to its potential future applications.
Let’s take a look at why sapphire offers so much promise.
- Sapphire used for practical purposes, outside of jewelry, is synthetically grown, and then cut and polished, since clear, colorless sapphire gemstones almost never occur in nature. Synthetic sapphire has a similar composition to the gemstone, but is grown under controlled conditions to prevent internal stresses that can weaken the crystal. Check out a video on how sapphire is made, featured on the TV show “How Do They Do It.”
- Speaking of heat, sapphire has a melting temperature of 2030 degrees Celsius — which is 20x the boiling point of water.
- Sapphire is the second hardest material on earth behind diamond and is so strong that it’s been effectively used as bulletproof “glass.”
- Apple isn’t the first smartphone company to utilize a sapphire face plate. In fact, luxury phone maker Vertu has been using sapphire screens for 15 years. You can also find sapphire onlens covers of certain smartphone cameras and the fingerprint scanner/home button on the iPhone 5S.
- Sapphire is the primary material used as the foundation for LED chips, which can be found all around you in products like traffic lights, light bulbs, HDTVs, tablets, computer monitors, gaming systems and mobile phones. The majority of the commercial sapphire produced today goes into LEDs.
- In the future, sapphire could be used for a variety of medical purposes, including artificial joint replacements, given that it’s not only biocompatible so it won’t react with the body but also harder and more durable than ceramics and stainless steel.
- You may know that high-end watches have sapphire faces given the crystals’ exceptional clarity and scratch-resistant surfaces. Those same reasons are why sapphire is used in the optic heads of missiles.
- Sapphire is used to cover barcode scanners, like the ones you see at the grocery store.
- The potential uses for sapphire are truly unlimited! Just imagine one day having ultra-strong wine glasses for those of us with the propensity for breaking them.