New metal alloys likely to be of interest for future iPhones and iPads

Apple licenses ‘liquid metal’ technology

SEC filings have revealed that Apple entered into an IP agreement with Californian metal alloy research company Liquidmetal.

The SEC filing shows that Apple has exclusively licensed the commercialisation of Liquidmetal Technologies’ intellectual property. Liquidmetal specialises in the research of so-called "liquidmetal alloys" which the company says "possess an ‘amorphous’ atomic structure," which differs from the crystalline structure of traditional metal alloys.

"No discernable patterns exist in the atomic structure of the unique Liquidmetal alloys. As such, properties superior to the limits of conventional metals can be achieved," said the company on its website

Liquidmetal says that the new alloys offer a range of boosted properties such as high yield strength, high hardless, superior elastic limit, high corrosion resistance and high wear-resistance. Apple will very likely have been drawn to claims of the material’s claimed superior strength to weight ratio, ideal for portable devices which are generally at the forefront of the limitations of materials. 

The move is a continuation of Apple’s strategy of acquiring more and more technology to use in the company’s mobile products. Previous moves include investment mobile graphics specialist PowerVR and an earlier purchases of CPU technology outfits PA Semi and Intrinsity, culminating in design work on the Samsung-Apple developed A4 system-on-chip that features in the iPhone 4 and iPad. 

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