Corning reportedly working on Gorilla Glass for foldable phones

Corning reportedly working on Gorilla Glass for foldable phones

"Glass today, the current choices out there, they're not optimal [for folding smartphones]", said John Bayne, an executive with Corning's Gorilla Glass unit. The flexible plastic covers of devices like the Galaxy Fold and Mate X are destined to pick up nicks and scratches at a higher rate.

Foldable smartphones are expensive and fashionable right now, but the devices use plastic, not glass, to achieve their folding form.

Glass does bend, though not as much as plastic. Unsurprisingly, salt corrodes the transistors needed to make a display work, meaning Willow Glass isn't suitable for foldable phone displays. Currently, there's no feasible way to mass produce a glass panel that can fold the way companies need in order to create foldable products. Plastic may be making a comeback thanks to foldable phones, but it won't be without its drawbacks.

Corning is now experimenting with the fusion of the rollable Willow Glass and Gorilla Glass, but since that entails immersing the glass into a molten salt solution, it corrodes the transistors found in the display. According to Wired, Corning is in the process of developing ultrathin, bendable glass that's 0.1 millimeters thick and can bend to a 5 millimeter radius, without sacrificing strength and durability. That would be thinner than either the Galaxy Fold or Mate X.

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To produce this glass, engineers dip glass sheets into molten salt.

Apple showed its faith in Corning in 2017 when it announced a $200 million investment to "support Corning's R&D, capital equipment needs and state-of-the-art glass processing".

"We have glasses we've sampled to customers, and they're functional, but they're not quite meeting all the requirements", Bayne says. Maybe in a couple of years, you'll be able to get a more durable foldable phone.

By the company's current estimate, its bendable glass solution will be ready by the time foldable display smartphones go mainstream in the next few years. "People either want better performance against a drop event or a tighter bend radius".

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