Saturday, February 4, 2023
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Apple patent involves a foldable iPhone with a ‘self-healing’ display

I still don’t think that Apple will release a foldable iPhone, but I could be wrong. The tech giant has been granted several patents for such a device, including a new one (number 11,444,268) for “electronic devices having flexible display covers” that can “heal” themselves.

About the patent

In the patent Apple says that electronic devices often include displays for presenting images to a user. Displays are typically formed from rigid planar substrates. Apple says that, although satisfactory in many situations, rigid displays such as these may be difficult to integrate into certain devices, such as devices with bendable housings. 

The tech giant is investigating flexible, foldable displays. However, in any electronic device display, there’s a chance it could be scratched or dented.

Apple says that to improve the aesthetics of the electronic device, it may be desirable for the presence of scratches and dents to be minimized. Apple’s patent involves a display cover layer that may include a layer of self-healing material. 

The layer of self-healing material may be formed across the entire display cover layer or may be formed only in the flexible region of the display cover layer. The display cover layer may include a layer of elastomer in the flexible region of the display cover layer for increased flexibility. The layer of self-healing material may cover the layer of elastomer in the flexible region. 

Self-healing may occur in the layer of self-healing material without prompting (e.g., when the self-healing coating is dented, the material of the coating may fill the dent even without external intervention). Alternatively, the self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus. 

What’s more, to promote flexibility in the display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a transparent dielectric layer with slits. The slits may be filled with an index-matching material. 

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “An electronic device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis. A display may span the bend axis. To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage, the display may include a display cover layer with a flexible portion. The flexible portion of the display cover layer may be interposed between first and second rigid portions of the display cover layer. 

“The display cover layer may also include a layer with self-healing properties. The layer of self-healing material may be formed across the entire display cover layer or may be formed only in the flexible region of the display cover layer. The display cover layer may include a layer of elastomer in the flexible region of the display cover layer for increased flexibility. Self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.

The accompanying flexible iPhone mock-up is courtesy of It’s Nice That.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.