It’s official: Apple has been granted its first Liquidmetal patent, according to the folks at cultofmac.com. Liquidmetal is a sci-fi metal alloy that NASA says is “poised to redefine materials science as we know it in the 21st century.”
Apple is known to have signed an exclusive agreement with Liquidmetal Technologies to obtain rights to use the space age material, but has been mum on the matter.
It still is, but those who were inspired enough to see what patents Apple has been granted recently have learned that the Cupertino giant is looking into “current collector plates of bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys.”
Although the documents do not specifically reference the Liquidmetal trademark, the material is described as an amorphous alloy or “ metallic glass.”
Basically, Apple’s patent is for an internal component of a fuel cell that leverages the unique physical capabilities of Liquidmetal.
Fuel cells promise to make a cheap, efficient and environmentally friendly method of powering portable electronics, cultofmac explains.
According to the aforementioned blog, miniature fuel cells could power mobile phones for more than 30 days without recharging.
Notebooks like Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air could be powered for 20 hours or more, the report notes.
According to Apple’s patent filings, the invention is directed to “collector plates made of bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys, the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys providing ruggedness, lightweight structure, excellent resistance to chemical and environmental effects, and low-cost manufacturing.”
“Another object of the current invention is a method of making collector plates from such bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys,” the patent description reads.
Until now, company watchers believed Apple was only interested in Liquidmetal because of its light weight, and anti-corrosive, scratch-resistant capabilities, which would make great cases for its iPhones and iPods.
Instead, Apple appears to be more interested in making more efficient batteries with it.
Liquidmetal alloys can be made to be extremely hard, durable, and, most importantly, corrosion proof. The material may well prove to be the ideal one for fuel cells.