Apple patent describes a 'self-healing' display that uses heat to fix cracks and scratches


Apple may be developing a solution for all those clumsy iPhone users with cracked screens.

A newly surfaced patent application describes a ‘self-healing’ screen that would be used in a foldable iPhone.

Screen damage has been a major obstacle for bendable smartphones – like Samsung’s fragile Galaxy Fold – because dirt and other particles can get trapped when you fold them and scratch or dent the display. 

The proposed technology would use elastomer, a pliant material that returns to its original form when heated. 

Apple’s application suggest it could be used in phones, laptops, tablets, watches and other devices. 

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A newly surfaced patent application describes a 'self-healing' screen that would be used in a foldable iPhone. Screen damage is a major obstacle for plans for foldable smartphones

A newly surfaced patent application describes a ‘self-healing’ screen that would be used in a foldable iPhone. Screen damage is a major obstacle for plans for foldable smartphones

The application for ‘Electronic Devices With Flexible Display Cover Layers’ says the they ‘may have an outermost layer formed from clear glass, transparent plastic, sapphire, or other transparent materials that serve as a protective layer for thin-film transistor circuitry and other display structures.’

Used in Apple Watches, Sapphire glass is thinner and more durable and scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass currently used in most high-end smartphones.  

Referring to that outer shell as a ‘display cover layer,’ it adds that, ‘to help mitigate the number of dents, scratches, or other imperfections in a display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a layer of self-healing material.’ 

According to Apple Insider, specifics about this miraculous self-healing material are pretty slim, other than it would employ ‘a layer of elastomer.’ 

The proposed technology would use elastomer, a pliant material that returns to its original form when heated. Apple theorizes the heating could occur automatically, on a set schedule or while charging

The proposed technology would use elastomer, a pliant material that returns to its original form when heated. Apple theorizes the heating could occur automatically, on a set schedule or while charging

Elastomer is an elastic material that returns to its original shape when heated. 

That heating could happen automatically, according to a predetermined schedule or while charging.

‘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),’ the patent reads.

‘Alternatively, the self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.’

The application is dated January 28, but was published by the US Patent & Trademark Office on October 1. 

It’s credited to eight inventors including Paul Drzaic and Hoon Sik Kim, who have both previously been granted patents related to a bendable iPhone.

This isn’t the first time Apple has looked into self-repair technology. 

Apple has applied to add self-healing technology to its iPhones and iPads back in 2014, similar to the technology seen on LG’s G Flex handset. 

Its patent application described a coating as thin as 50 nanometers that flows into scratches and nicks to make them disappear.

That same application also proposes a non-stick coating so objects ‘slide’ off it, as well as a system by which a phone or tablet’s glass display is covered with tiny, convex bumps to absorb scratches. 

In 2016, Apple patented a system that could fix dead pixels on a screen and even dry internal components if they got wet.

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Defective pixels display blotches or don’t light up with the rest of the screen.

Apple says it could fix them by cycling through a screen diagnostic schedule.

But since this process has to run for a few hours, the maintenance would be performed while the user sleeps.

The patent also proposed testing a phone’s camera to make sure it’s working properly and reset cellular components if users had issues with texting or getting online.

The same application proposed technology that would save users from throwing their iPhone in a bag of rice if they spilled a drink on it

When you got somewhere loud – like a crowded bar – it would send a special tone that would push most out of the water that’s trapped in the speakers.

The iPhone 12 is expected to be announced on October 13 and is rumored to be Apple’s first 5G phone.

Don’t expect any of these features any time soon, if ever.

Apple frequently files patents for cutting-edge technology that it never employs, both to self-advertise and protect its intellectual property.  



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