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Up until now, Apple has only used sapphire crystal for tiny components, such as the glass that covers the Touch ID button on the new iPhone 5s and a portion of the device's rear camera. But according to TechCrunch, new technology might allow Apple to start using it for iPhone screens much sooner than expected.
The proof? According to TechCrunch's findings, Apple recently worked with GT Advanced Technologies to boost production of the material by 2000 percent. Even better, GTAT also appears to have bought a solar panel business that developed the technology to slice tough materials into thin sheets using—get this—an ion particle accelerator.
The big question is whether Apple can even use this process with sapphire crystal, and whether Apple can get it to work with a laminating system for sapphire that the Cupertino giant has already patented. If so, the cost of making the glass could drop down to comparatively nothing.
That's big news, because as 9to5 Mac notes, using sapphire glass for an iPhone screen could cost as much as 10 times the Gorilla Glass apple uses with its current models. If Apple manages to pull it off, though, that could mean the end of shattered and scratchy iPhone screens save for extreme circumstances. As 9to5 Mac says, "short of scraping it with your diamond ring, you're unlikely to scratch it."
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.