One of the many reasons why Smartphones are so clever is to do with their incredible glass screens. Gorilla Glass was developed by Cornings, one of the world’s largest glassmakers after a direct approach from Apple in 2006. The result is a thin, scratch-resistant and tough screen; and the latest (5th generation) version of this glass is less than 1mm thick. Thin screens are much more efficient in transferring finger pressure into an electrical charge; and therefore make more efficient phones. It is the glass screen, in conjunction with thin film technology enabled by TCOs (transparent conductive oxides), that empowers the modern smartphone. Sputtering systems are used to deposit thin films of transparent conductive oxides.Thin screens are much more efficient in transferring finger pressure into an electrical charge; and therefore make more efficient phones.
Gorilla Glass is made by modifying the manufacturing process with a technique called ‘fusion draw’ which involves two glass layers fusing into one single sheet. This results in a flat, continuous, defect and weakness free glass sheet. The sheet is then submerged in a hot bath of potassium salts, in which an exchange of ions take place: sodium ions in the glass are replaced by potassium ions from the bath – making it even stronger.
Gorilla Glass has further exciting applications including huge display screens, and smart windows, that could alter their transparency, or maybe gather solar energy. Future applications could even include foldable glads.
But Dragontrail is a new glass on the block – manufactured by Asahi Glass in Japan using the float-glass system whereby molten glass is floated on a bed of molten metal.
Both types of glass have very exciting futures ahead – particularly in car development. Some new cars already contain touchscreens in their dashboards, but these lightweight glass techniques could also be used for lighter, stronger, and increased glass areas for extra safety and visibility.