Thursday, March 14, 2013

A rant on "The Next Big Thing"

Digital Trends proclaims, "Sapphire is unscratchable, unbreakable, and the next big thing in touchscreens" Sapphire has not a prayer of living up to this hype. If you read through the article, the author makes no mention of Sapphire's index of refraction. Indeed, being a software guy, it would not be surprising to know that the author does not know what an index of refraction is. As I have pointed out in other posts, when displays were actually made in the US, materials science degrees were common among display development staff. When the US moved to 100% off-shore purchases, that went away as did much of the ability to comprehend materials impact on display technology.

As far as I know, every material harder than glass has a higher index of refraction (including Sapphire), meaning that it will have a much more reflective surface. With the exception of digital paper, current displays are terrible in bright sun. Switching to a Sapphire lens cover will make them unusable outdoors... kind of defeats the purpose of having a mobile device.


  1. Correct me if 'im wrong but there's a big difference between refraction and reflection.

    The angle of reflection merely depends on the angle of incidence of the light, no matter what the material is.

    Refraction is the change of direction of the light between diferent materials, so maybe the only thing affected would be the light coming out the screen at a wider angle.

    Maybe it'll be a bit dimmer but with a thin screen you probably won't notice a big difference. Or you may even like the "depth" of the material that makes it look like it has a better quality (and it does) .

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  3. The angle of reflection is, of course independent of the index of refraction, however the percentage of light reflected is deeply depended on the index. This is how optical fiber works, a transparent core and a transparent annulus with differing indexes.

    An important thing to consider is a thing called the evanescent wave. Though a beam of light may be reflected at a surface (where two materials meet) the photon is not a point but a statistical distribution of probabilities. Part of the wave nature of the photon does travel through the material it is being reflected from hence the index of the reflecting material does matter... a whole bunch.


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