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Sapphire is a form of Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) and one of nature’s most abundant materials. It is also a very hard substance with Mohs 9 hardness second only to diamond and a wide range of properties that make it desirable in various applications.
Its unique material properties include a high compressive strength, a high melting point and is highly resistant to common chemical acids and alkalis due to its high dielectric constant. Additionally, sapphire is environmentally stable and resists abrasions, fluctuating temperatures and shock.
In addition to its high thermal conductivity, optical sapphire is an excellent choice for the fabrication of CMOS chips because it has good electrical insulating properties and enables the monolithic integration of both digital and analog circuitry on a single chip. This technology is particularly useful for cellular telephones, public safety band radios and satellite communication systems.
This technology is being used to produce ultra thin sheets of sapphire that can be used in smartphone displays. Using a process developed by GT Advanced, a sapphire wafer is bombarded with high energy hydrogen ions and separated into paper-thin sheets that can then be processed for the display of smartphones.
These super-thin sheets are then processed into a variety of optical components. These include sapphire windows, waveplates and other components such as laser lenses, aspheres or prisms. Optical sapphire is a durable and robust material, with high transmission in the UV and IR. These components are dimensionally and thermally stable up to 1700C, the highest operating temperature rating of all optical materials, without degradation.