The patent, which was spotted by Patently Apple, concerns how to coat a piece of metal with a protective layer that can absorb visible light. The result promises to create a matte black appearance over surfaces including aluminum, titanium and steel.
According to Apple’s patent, current techniques to dye consumer electronics the color black are flawed because the metal surfaces will still reflect some light. “Indeed, the best attempts have attained only a dark grey color,” the company wrote in the filing, which was originally made back in May 2019.
To solve the problem, Apple seems to have adopted the principle behind Vantablack, one of the blackest fabric materials on the planet. It too can absorb light to create an ultra black appearance by using millions of microscopic carbon nanotubes to trap the incoming photons.
Apple’s patent also proposes using “nano-scale tubes” along with colored dye pigments to create a micrometers-thin layer on a metal surface to create the true black color. The filing goes on to point out examples of applying the technique to a smartphone, tablet, smartwatch and finally a laptop.
(Credit: Apple’s patent)
“Additionally, whatever visible light that is not absorbed by these light-absorbing features is diffusely reflected by the external surface,” the company’s patent adds. “As a result, the external surface is characterized as having a low gloss, matte finish.”
A potential black-colored MacBook would certainly add some variety to the product. Currently, the MacBook Pro is only available in two colors: silver and space gray. The MacBook Air, meanwhile, is available in a third color: gold.
The last time Apple offered a black-colored MacBook was more than a decade ago with a black polycarbonate model, which was later discontinued. To get the product in black, you currently have to settle for a custom “skins” from vendors such as Blvck Paris that you can stick on the laptop’s casing.