Apple Is Granted Its First Liquidmetal Patent [Exclusive]

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A prototype fuel cell mobile phone by Hitachi. Apple may be working on similar technology for the iPhone and iPad. Photo: Slashphone

Apple has been granted its first patent related to Liquidmetal, a space-age metal alloy. But the patent isn’t for a new iPad enclosure or iPhone antenna, as experts have predicted. Instead Apple’s Liquidmetal patent is for an internal component of a fuel cell.

Apple’s new patent describes “amorphous alloy” collector plates for fuel cells, an electrochemical battery that uses hydrogen to generate electricity. Although the patent doesn’t reference the Liquidmetal trademark, the material is an amorphous alloy or “metallic glass.”

Last year, Apple signed an exclusive agreement to use the Liquidmetal Technologies’ IP in consumer electronic products. But of course, the ever-secretive company hasn’t hinted at its plans for the material. The possibilites are endless. Liquidmetal is a super lightweight, high-strength, scratch-proof metal that NASA says is “poised to redefine materials science as we know it in the 21st century.”

Scientists who helped develop Liquidmetal have previously predicted that Apple will use it to build the next iPhone. So why is Apple interested in fuel cells?