Diamond glass could make your phone’s screen nearly unbreakable—and its inventor says the FBI enlisted him after Huawei tried to steal his secrets.
The sample looked like an ordinary piece of glass, 4 inches square and transparent on both sides. It’d been packed like the precious specimen its inventor, Adam Khan, believed it to be—placed on wax paper, nestled in a tray lined with silicon gel, enclosed in a plastic case, surrounded by air bags, sealed in a cardboard box—and then sent for testing to a laboratory in San Diego owned by Huawei Technologies Co. But when the sample came back last August, months late and badly damaged, Khan knew something was terribly wrong. Was the Chinese company trying to steal his technology?
The glass was a prototype for what Khan’s company, Akhan Semiconductor Inc., describes as a nearly indestructible smartphone screen. Khan’s innovation was figuring out how to coat one side of the glass with a microthin layer of artificial diamond. He hoped to license this technology to phone manufacturers, which could use it to develop an entirely new, superdurable generation of electronics. Akhan says Miraj Diamond Glass, as the product is known, is 6 times stronger and 10 times more scratch-resistant than Gorilla Glass, the industry standard that generates about $3 billion in annual sales for Corning Inc. “Lighter, thinner, faster, stronger,” says Khan, in full sales mode. Miraj, he promises, will lead to a “fundamental next level in design.”