Yale Holds Patents to Produce a New Generation of Cell Phone Cases

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A cell phone case made from bulk metallic glasses at Yale.

Yale engineering professor Jan Schroers holds several Yale patents through the Office of Cooperative Research (OCR) related to bulk metallic glasses and the process used to form them into responsive, more waterproof cell phone cases, as well as patents related to creating precise molds to make miniature parts for watches and sensors.

These patents, together with Schroers’ processing know-how, form the basis of his new startup, Supercool Metals.

“Everyone’s always talked about making sheets of bulk metallic glasses that can be used as a feedstock material for a vast amount of subsequent molding,” said OCR licensing associate Richard Andersson. “Yale is the first to have a sheet-making technique that is practical and scalable.”

Schroers’ patented research represents a major breakthrough in bulk metallic glasses, which have long been considered the Holy Grail for phone and other electronic casings manufacturers. Their strength and flexibility make them ideal for covering electronics.

“Our process is now scalable,” Schroers said. “We made machines that can make the sheets, and with blow-molding, it offers a low-cost, and in contrast to processes currently in use, a green manufacturing method.”

The fact that bulk metallic glasses are elastic means that there can be thinner sections with a trigger mechanism underneath — meaning no more holes around buttons on a smartphone, where water or other liquids could seep into the device.

“Both Apple and Samsung are working hard to make phones waterproof,” Schroers said. “Our technology represents a big step toward this goal.”

CONTACT: Brita Belli, Communications Officer, Yale Office of Cooperative Research, (203)436-4933, brita.belli@yale.edu.