There are some articles floating around that describe an Android phone, the “Turing Phone,” as being made out of “Liquidmetal.”
The Turing Phone is not made out of Liquidmetal®. Apple has a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize Liquidmetal® intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products.
The Turing Phone is made out of something the phone’s maker, Turing Robotic Industries, calls “liquidmorphium.” If that makes you immediately think of some marketing jargon ginned-up in order to play off the Liquidmetal® name, so be it.
Thomas Steipp, President and CEO of Liquidmetal Technologies, provided the following statement to MacDailyNews, “Regarding Touring Phone [sic], we have no relationship with them at all. They do not use our technology, nor do they have a license. We have a large patent portfolio and are trying to ensure that others in our space do not use any of it inappropriately. At this point, we do not have enough information to comment on either their product or the technology that is being used.”
According to CNET, “liquidmorphium” is “an amorphous alloy of zirconium, copper, aluminum, nickel and silver that’s supposedly stronger than steel.”
Liquidmetal®, the one to which Apple has a perpetual and exclusive license, was discovered by researchers at the California Institute of Technology. Liquidmetal® Technologies is the leading developer of bulk alloys that utilize the performance advantages offered by amorphous alloy technology. Amorphous alloys are unique materials that are distinguished by their ability to retain a random structure when they solidify, in contrast to the crystalline atomic structure that forms in ordinary metals and alloys. Liquidmetal® alloys are harder than alloys of titanium or aluminum of similar composition. The zirconium and titanium based Liquidmetal® alloys achieved yield strength of over 1723 MPa, nearly twice the strength of conventional crystalline titanium alloys (Ti6Al4V is ~830 MPa), and about the strength of high-strength steels and some highly engineered bulk composite materials.
Liquidmetal® combines a number of desirable material features, including high tensile strength, excellent corrosion resistance, very high coefficient of restitution and excellent anti-wearing characteristics, while also being able to be heat-formed in processes similar to thermoplastics.
Liquidmetal® Technologies has developed highly specialized alloys and a manufacturing process that allows cosmetic (down to 2 Ra, μin), high-strength (231 ksi), precision parts to be injection molded in a single manufacturing step. Liquidmetal alloys provide an economic advantage for parts with cosmetic surfaces, complex shapes with close tolerances, or forged titanium-grade strength.
Liquidmetal® Technologies controls the intellectual property rights with more than 70 U.S. patents.
Check out this video (especially the ball bearing test starting at 1:42):
The Apple-Liquidmetal deal is basically this: Apple contributes engineers and R&D – basically figuring out how to practically make Liquidmetal into commercial parts – and contributes their inventions back to Liquidmetal (via Crucible Intellectual Property, LLC, a Liquidmetal subsidiary) which gets to use Apple’s inventions in fields other than consumer electronics (sporting goods, aviation, medical, military, etc.). With an already-paid one-time license fee of US$20 million, Apple owns sole rights to use Liquidmetal in electronics forever via “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercialize such intellectual property in the field of consumer electronic products.” Every time that we hear of Apple and Liquidmetal extending their agreement, it refers to Apple and Liquidmetal lengthening the amount of time where both companies share IP with each other via Crucible.
Why does Apple keep extending their partnership with Liquidmetal? – June 25, 2015
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2016 – June 23, 2015
Two new Liquidmetal patent filings from Apple revealed; list watch and jewelry among potential uses – April 23, 2015
Liquidmetal’s Apple alliance yet to bear fruit – September 30, 2014
Apple’s new Liquidmetal-related patent sparks speculation – July 7, 2014
Apple patents method for embedding sapphire displays in LiquidMetal device chassis – May 27, 2014
Liquidmetal-Visser agreement paves the way for more rapid adoption of amorphous metal manufacturing – May 21, 2014
Apple extends Liquidmetal exclusivity deal through February 2015 – May 21, 2014