[Transparent Aluminum] was notably mentioned in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Panels of ultra-thick acrylic glass were needed to construct water tanks within their ship’s cargo bay for containing two humpback whales and tons of water. However, the Enterprise crew, without money appropriate to the period, found it necessary to barter for the required materials. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott exchanges the chemical formula for transparent aluminum for several sheets of the material from a manufacturer called Plexicorp. When Dr. Leonard McCoy informs Scott that giving Dr. Nichols the formula is altering the future, the engineer responds, “Why? How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?”
MERRIMACK, N.H., Nov. 4, 2013 — GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq:GTAT) announced that it has entered into a multi-year supply agreement with Apple Inc. to provide sapphire material. GT will own and operate ASF® furnaces and related equipment to produce the material at an Apple facility in Arizona where GT expects to employ over 700 people. Apple will provide GT with a prepayment of approximately $578 million. GT will reimburse Apple for the prepayment over five years, starting in 2015.
Sapphire is currently used as the substrate for LED manufacture and is used by Apple in the lense covers of various ‘iDevice’ cameras as well as the fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5s. The Apple – GT Advanced Technologies deal suggests that Apple needs an assured supply of Sapphire for current and future devices. Such future applications could include Sapphire screens and/or wearable products. (http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2013/09/apple-invents-a-fusion-process-that-will-add-a-sapphire-laminate-layer-to-iphone-ipad-future-iwatch-cover-glass.html)
From GT Advanced Technologies:
Sapphire is second only to diamond in hardness (that is, scratch resistance). The formula for Sapphire is Al2O3.
Sapphire = Transparent Aluminum
See also (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapphire)