Thread: iPhone Mod
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You guys sure know how to get ahead of yourselves... It wouldn't be [M] without a flame Maybe Ill create a spinoff thread in the General forum describing that particular post from 4 years ago and why it is so hysterical to me for someone to post it here.

Back to the topic at hand. Scanning Electron Microscope spectroscopy of the iPhone. One member said "why not just call Apple and ask what it is made of?" Apple is notoriously secretive about all operations. If it is not listed on their website they don't want you to know, period. So I set forth with the task of figuring out everything their is to know about what goes into the exterior of the iPhone. I had some assumptions but the only way to know for sure was to analyze the atomic makeup of these parts. I had 3 main interests.

1) The screen, I had heard tall tales about Apple secretly using sapphire crystal for the front display. The reasoning behind this was of course the scratch resistant nature of the iPhone scree. Apple says it is "optical quality glass" wouldn't Apple advertise such an extravagant feature? I had to know...

2) The shinny outer bezel. Was it aluminum, or steel? And what gave it that shinny finish?

3) The rear housing. Again aluminum? or something else?

With free access to PSU's new $190 million nano fabrication facility I set my eyes on the "PERSONAL SEM". A small tabletop device located just outside the class 1,000 clean room. A cool $250,000 dollar machine with a single feature I had to try out, X-ray diffraction spectroscopy.

In short X-rays are shot toward the sample causing electron diffraction (X-rays hit the surface and knock off electrons). Specific elements give off characteristic signals that can be picked up and output by the machine. On a side note the X-ray producing portion of the microscope has to be cooled with liquid nitrogen prior to use

Here we go...
On a cold november morning I set foot in the clean room with the sole purpose of determining what the heck my $500 iPhone was really made of. This may not seem like a big deal at first but let me again describe what goes into taking SEM images. The sample is placed in a small chamber which is pumped down to an operating pressure of .00005torr. Normal atmosphere is 760torr.... So you are basically subjecting whatever you put in that camber to the vacuum of space. iPhone LCD, battery electronics...
Why is such a vacuum necessary you ask? To take an image 20,000 Volts of electricity are shot again at the sample, knocking free electrons. Air in the chamber would cause the filament producing this charge to instantly vaporize, not to mention it would wreak havoc with the imaging. So yes again I was willingly going to apply a 20,000V potential directly to my sensitive, new $500 iPhone.

I placed the phone in the chamber and began pump down. First with a roughing pump, kicking in the turbo-molecular pump at crossover. Then the waiting began. Not only did this pump have to pull all the gas out of the chamber but also all the moisture and gunk from all the crevices from within the phone. If you remember from science class water evaporates at room temperature at low pressure. While this process usually takes 5-10minutes the iPhone took an hour to pump down.

It was time. Turn on the electron gun and apply the 20kV. At that moment an electrical engineer whom I had met a few days prior walked in. Dialogue ensued.

"What are you imaging?"
With a cool tone "a cell phone..."
"Hope it isn't new" (with a chuckle)
"Why is that?"
"that thing producing a 20kV potential over a 1 foot gap!!!"
"Ya I know, its just my iPhone..."
"It took me an hour to pump down and now you want me to take it out?"
"Im just saying.... ur a brave man"
"Im confident it can handle it, plus Its powered down"

In the back of my mind I knew it is a common occurrence for insulating materials, such as glass, to build up large electron charges and then suddenly discharge them through the easiest path to ground. Hoping this path did not include going through any of the sensitive electronics now nestled in the chamber.

Finally the pictures. They may not seem like much picture-wise but any geek will cream himself at the amazing spectrometry graphs generated.

1) Screen - main element Si (GLASS!)

2) Bezel - main element Fe (Steel), secondary element Cr (Chrome) we have chrome plated steel folks.

3) Rear Housing - main element Al (Aluminum) with trace elements of Oxygen. Anodized aluminum here.

Here is also an image of one of the screen capacitors used for the touch display...

I am fairly confident these are the FIRST EVER SEM images of an iPhone. Oh and I almost forgot. It still works fine, as if their was any doubt...

Old 02-20-2008, 05:51 PM KnightKrew is offline  
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