The crystalline form of aluminum oxide, sapphire, might be what covers the screen of your next smartphone. A report out of the MIT Technology Review says that sapphire could compete with Corning’s Gorilla Glass which is currently being used in most phone’s displays, in the very near future.
Right now, sapphire can’t really compete with a Gorilla Glass display in terms of cost. It would cost around $30, compared to just $3 — ten times the price basically. But Eric Virey of research firm Yole Développement says that in a couple of years, the price of sapphire could go down to less than $20.
While it’s still definitely more expensive than glass, the advantages of using sapphire could make it a very competitive material in the market. It’s three times stronger than Gorilla Glass and three times more scratch resistant. In fact, sapphire is harder than any other natural material except for diamond. Apple has actually already started using the material, but not for their screens — it’s what’s used to protect the camera on the iPhone 5.
But when can we expect phones with displays made out of sapphire? Not very long from now, apparently. Virey says that all major mobile phone manufacturers are considering using the material and he’s “convinced that some will start testing the water and release some high-end smartphones using sapphire in 2013.”
Three times stronger and three times more scratch resistant? Not to mention it sounds way cooler? “My phone’s sapphire display” just rolls of the tongue, don’t you think? Count me in!