Apple has received a patent for the cutting and processing of sapphire wafers so that the material can be used in consumer electronics. Sapphires are the second hardest material on earth after diamonds, and Apple is said to be giving serious thought to replacing Gorilla Glass with a sapphire screen. Recently, contract manufacturer Foxconn revealed that it had made 100 prototypes of the next-generation iPhone wearing a sapphire display
While the hardness of sapphires makes it great for a smartphone screen, it also makes it hard to cut the material. Apple will have to use strong, powerful lasers to cut the sapphire material to its specifications. The patent covers the process by which Apple grows and harvests the material, and polishes them. That also includes the use of lasers to cut them. The wafers are then decorated and cut into windows. Currently, Apple employs sapphire as a camera lens cover on the Apple iPhone 5s
and as a protective glass to the TouchID fingerprint sensor on the same phone.
When decorating the polished sapphire wafers, they can be coated with the anti-fingerprint oleophobic covering, or covered with an ink mask for a printed circuit board.