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  • GT Advanced to Use Particle Accelerator to Cut Sapphire Glass Production Costs


    Apple’s new sapphire glass manufacturing partner, GT Advanced, reportedly owns some very advanced technology to manufacture extremely thin sheets of sapphire with an emphasis on using an economical method. The folks over at TechCrunch have discovered a company called Twin Creeks that GT Advanced acquired late last year, which developed a hydrogen particle accelerator as a cheaper alternative to saws when attempting to slice larger chunks of sapphire for use on electronics. The following was mentioned regarding the technology:

    Twin Creeks’ hydrogen ion particle accelerator (basically an ion cannon) allowed them to place wafers around the edges of the device and smash them with hydrogen ions. Here’s a description of the process from Extreme Tech:

    "A particle accelerator bombards these wafers with hydrogen ions, and with exacting control of the voltage of the accelerator, the hydrogen ions accumulate precisely 20 micrometers from the surface of each wafer. A robotic arm then transports the wafers to a furnace where the ions expand into hydrogen gas, which cause the 20-micrometer-thick layer to shear off."

    The process, when applied to solar, is then followed up by backing the sheets with flexible metal. The result is a huge reduction in thickness of sheets without the use of saws. This results in a big reduction in costs.
    According to the press release, GT expects to see its gross margins to drop significantly as sapphire glass production rises, as costs go down, but the overall volume is said to more than make up for it. The folks over at TechCrunch go on to note a patent that Apple obtained last year that creates a layered touchscreen with a “hyper-thin sheet of sapphire” combined with much cheaper glass sheets. The sapphire glass could be on the outside of the phone, protecting the screen from scratches, while enjoying the cost-savings of cheaper forms of glass on the rest of the display assembly. The following was mentioned regarding the matter in the report:

    By doing this, Apple could stretch out the production and cost factors of sapphire enough to support manufacturing full-size display cover sheets, not just small wearable panels, buttons or protective camera covers. This, in turn, could mean sapphire cover sheets that are harder and tougher than standard glass materials on your iPhone years sooner than most analysts have predicted.
    With the new Apple and GT Advanced facility expected to open in Mesa, Arizona sometime next year, we’ll have to wait and see what comes of the combined effort of the two companies.

    Source: TechCrunch
    This article was originally published in forum thread: GT Advanced to Use Particle Accelerator to Cut Sapphire Glass Production Costs started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. exNavy's Avatar
      exNavy -
      "(basically an ion cannon)"

      Didn't the rebellion use an ion canon in the Empire Strikes Back to take out a Star Destroyer?
    1. tridley68's Avatar
      tridley68 -
      That is a really awsume piece of equipment.
    1. REMED1AL's Avatar
      REMED1AL -
      I just can't help but feel Apple has helped to push the science behind devices to levels beyond previously even considered. Just the idea of a particle generator being used to make electronics seems pretty damn cool, IMHO.