As with all patent applications, it's a bit early to get too excited about this one, but a recently published filing from Apple dubbed "Nitriding Stainless Steel for Consumer Electronic Products" is one of the more interesting we've seen from the company as of late, especially when you consider its recent acquisition of Liquidmetal's intellectual property. Whereas Liquidmetal promises to let Apple create metal devices that are stronger and not limited to the usual structural or strength limitations found in conventional metals, this new patent application suggests that the company might also be working on a nitride coating for stainless steel that's described as "both scratch and impact resistant." What's more, the application suggests that the coating would not affect the appearance of the underlying stainless steel, and not cause any RF interference either. As pointed out in the application itself, that means it could be used on laptops, portable media players and, yes, even cellphones -- or it could simply be filed away with the countless other applications that haven't seen the light of day. Here's hoping for the former.