Glass as always been an integral part of the smartphone screen and that is what we’ve been accustomed to from time to time until the arrival of foldable smartphones. Corning has always been at the forefront of the smartphone glass industry with its Gorilla Glass brand. Lately, glass doesn’t seem to cut it anymore as fas as foldable smartphones are concerned. With the arrival of this new foldable form factor, Corning glass or any other glass for that matter is yet be used in these smartphones. The part of the screen you interact with day in day out is glass and due to the structure of the Corning Glass, they can’t be folded at least not yet. known to be a naturally rigid substance, glass is also tough which makes it useful protecting against scratches and some other minor damages.
Now, instead of glass, foldable smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X uses a plastic-based polymer. Unlike glass, one of the properties is that they can recover after undergoing stress and are not as tough. The latter makes it less efficient than glass, in the sense that, it is more prone to scratches and dents over time. As a solution to this, Corning is experimenting with a thin glass that can be folded over 200, 000 times. However, according to Corning general manager, John Bayne, he had
“The challenge was creating a glass that’s thin enough to bend without sacrificing the resilience needed to protect a display.”John Bayne
Contrary to what we know about glass, after undergoing alteration, glass can become flexible. Nonetheless, flexibility is not the only issue here, other subjects like durability as well usability is put into consideration. When it comes to smartphones, it has to be able to function as a touchscreen. And when it comes to foldable ones like the Huawei Mate X, it should be able to bend and still be able to maintain the protective properties of a standard smartphone glass. However, Corning has been able to develop something of that nature, albeit not perfected yet. The company shows a 0.1mm thick glass that can bend up to a radius of 5mm.
”In a glass solution, you’re really challenging the laws of physics, in that to get a very tight bend radius you want to go thinner and thinner, but you also have to be able to survive a drop event and resist damage.” said Bayne. “The technical challenge is, can you keep those tight 3- to 5-millimeter bend radii and also increase the damage resistance of the glass. That’s the trajectory we’re on.”John Bayne
The product is not ready yet, however, work has been on it for some time now and we are closer to seeing one anytime from now either from Corning or any other competition.