9 Things You Didn’t Know About Sapphire

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.

  1. 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.”
  1. Speaking of heat, sapphire has a melting temperature of 2030 degrees Celsius — which is 20x the boiling point of water.
  1. Sapphire is the second hardest material on earth behind diamond and is so strong that it’s been effectively used as bulletproof “glass.”
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Sapphire is used to cover barcode scanners, like the ones you see at the grocery store.
  1. 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.

Baseball Under the Lights: How it All Got Started


Early Cincinatti Reds Night Game

Early Cincinnati Reds Night Game

Major League Baseball will play its All-Star Game on July 15th. Baseball may be as American as apple pie, but many people may not realize that it wasn’t always played at night. In fact, before lighting, the stands for most MLB games during weekdays were empty since most baseball fans were at work.  Lighting changed all that and turned the MLB into the behemoth sport it is today. Today, even kids play baseball under lights. Now, Major League Baseball is going through another revolution – LED lighting.

But first, let us take a look at how revolutionary lighting was to baseball.  GE lighting engineer Robert J. Swackhamer successfully deployed an array of high-wattage lamps to light the railroad yards at night for a railroad. The lighting worked so well that Swackhamer convinced his bosses to test the arrays at General Electric Athletic Field in Lynn, Massachusetts.

On June 24, 1927, General Electric lit up the first night baseball game in history between Lynn and Salem using 72 flood lamps on five towers. Salem won 7-2 in front of a crowd that included players from the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Americans.

The GE executives were onto something. The progress was slow at first. It took GE three years to sign up a few minor league teams as customers. By 1935, GE finally hit the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds. The first Major League night game took place at the Red’s Crosley Field on Friday, May 24, 1935. The Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. Legendary Cincinnati announcer Red Barber said, “As soon as I saw the lights come on, I knew they were there to stay.” By 1941, 11 of the 16 Major League baseball fields installed GE lighting, including the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers.

Today, yesterday’s high-intensity-discharge (HID) metal halide lamp floodlights are beginning to be replaced with LED lighting. There are a lot of factors that make LED lighting attractive in to MLB and even NFL stadium management. It may be difficult to light the entire playing surface with traditional HID lighting. Lighting must be able to shine on second base or the 50 yard line requiring brighter and longer distance. LEDs shine brighter and can light longer distances making them more efficient. They are also more precise, so they can light up the playing surface and not blind spectators. LED lighting also lasts longer – 50,000 hours – reducing maintenance costs. They also light to full strength instantly.

Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans was marred by a 34 minute delay at the Superdome. According to Entergy New Orleans, power to the lights was lost when sensing equipment detected abnormalities. Once the outage cause was discovered and power was restored, the HID floodlights required time to come back to full brightness, about 10 to 15 minutes. By contrast, LED lighting is instant on.

Major League Baseball stadiums have already made progress in switching to LED signage with most stadiums sporting LED scoreboards and/or ribbon lighting. The most notable LED scoreboards in baseball are the Detroit Tigers’ 6,096 square feet LED video panel at Comerica Field and the Seattle Mariners’ scoreboard that measures 56.7-feet high by 201.5-feet wide and covers 11,425 square feet. They’re beginning to make progress in switching to LED lighting for their facilities. Busch Stadium, where the St. Louis Cardinals play, began energy efficiency improvements soon after it opened in 2006. Facility management has replaced more than 1,000 traditional spotlights and floodlights with LED lamps to cut lighting power demand in several areas by 90%.

For Further Reading

GE Reports, If You Build it They Will Come: How a GE Engineer Invented Night Baseball, http://www.gereports.com/post/81315361164/if-you-build-it-they-will-come-how-a-ge-engineer

Athletic Business, LED Tech Poised to Revolutionize Outdoor Sports Lighting, http://www.athleticbusiness.com/outdoor/led-technology-poised-to-revolutionize-outdoor-sports-lighting.html

NFL.com, Superdome power outage delays Super Bowl XLVII, http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/story/0ap1000000134895/article/superdome-power-outage-delays-super-bowl-xlvii

Greentech Media, Guest Analysis: Super Bowl Power Outage Shines a Bad Light on HID Lighting, http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/guest-analysis-superbowl-power-outage-shines-a-bad-light-on-hid-lighting