BARCELONA, Spain--The smartphone screen on the iPhone above may look like it's made of glass, but it isn't. It's made of sapphire. That's right, the same aluminum oxide compound (AL2O3) better known for brilliant blue gemstones that dangle from ears and throats and can cost a small fortune.
But this particular screen bears little resemblance to Earth-mined rock. Synthetically grown from a "mother" or starter crystal, companies that manufacture synthetic sapphire melt and cut the material (with diamond-tipped saws) into wafers, sheets, you name it.
In the case of the demo, a thin sheet … Read more