Corning announced details of a major new glass design at the eighth annual Display Week in Boston, a trade event hosted by the Society for Information Display. Named Willow Glass, Corning’s new glass is manufactured in such a way that allows it to reach temperatures of up to 500°C (932ºF) while maintaining a thickness of just 100 microns – or about that of a sheet of paper.
The company's Gorilla Glass was first brought into being to meet Steve Jobs' need for a hard-wearing glass screen for the original iPhone, and has since appeared on smartphones from almost every major manufacturer, in addition to a host of tablets and televisions. Therefore, any new innovation claimed by Corning will be sure to grab the close attention of interested parties such as Apple, Nokia and Samsung.
Where Willow Glass differs from Gorilla Glass, however, is its unusual thinness and flexibility, two properties which seem to all but guarantee that it be utilized by smartphone and tablet manufacturers in new and novel ways. Indeed, Corning states that Willow Glass also performs exceptionally well with touch sensor technology, though as samples of the glass are only just being sent out, we can expect a significant wait before it starts appearing on devices.
Willow Glass will support thinner backplanes and color filters for both OLED and LCD displays, making it suitable for smartphones, tablets and notebook computers, in addition to more exotic implementations for gadgets which require a curved display - perhaps opening the way for a more lightweight and wraparound version of Google's Project Glass.
Though Willow Glass is not the only flexible display product available to manufacturers, Corning's reputation coupled with an efficient production process seems to hand the company an advantage over the current competition.
The creation of Willow Glass is said to resemble that of a printing press, with glass produced in a continuous sheet - further insight into the manufacturing process can be gained from the short video below: