60-Second Tech

Apple Has Liquid Metal in Hand

Apple bought a license for a liquid metal alloy in 2010, and the speculation now is that the next iPhone may incorporate the strong, flexible product in its body. Larry Greenemeier reports

The words "liquid metal" might conjure up images of the T-1000 from Terminator 2. We're not aware of any shape-shifting robots in the works. But the rumor mill is buzzing with the possibility that Apple will include a special alloy made by the company Liquidmetal Technologies in the next-generation iPhone.

This liquid metal won't hunt down leaders of the future human resistance, but it is expected to make the new iPhone's body stronger than steel and more flexible than aluminum. That's because it's a zirconium- and titanium-based alloy with an amorphous atomic structure. These randomly arranged atoms pack together more tightly than a conventional crystalline structure to give Liquidmetal's alloy its unique properties.

As with much advance reporting of new Apple products, this could all be nothing more than speculation. However, Apple did buy an exclusive license to commercialize Liquidmetal's technology in August of 2010. And Apple has already used Liquidmetal's alloy to make a keylike tool used to eject iPhone 3G SIM cards.

Of course, it’s always possible that Apple bought the exclusive license just to keep other companies from having it. Companies like, say, Cyberdyne Systems.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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