The head of Corning Glass Technologies, a leading maker of glass substrates for smartphones, tablets and other consumer electronics, claims that manufacturers will only start to utilize Willow flexible glass in three years’ time. Therefore, despite of claims and expectations, foldable smartphones and unbreakable displays will only emerge in quite a distant future.
“People are not accustomed to glass you roll up. The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited,” said James Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, in an interview with Bloomberg news-agency.
Although Corning sent samples of Willow flexible glass to makers of various advanced CE devices, such as smartphones, tablets and TVs in June, 2012, actual advanced products are not expected to hit the market this year. The Willow glass should be used in some simple products this year, such as a flexible barrier for solar panels or as a thin film behind some touch panels. However, big name customers will spend a long time, before taking full advantage of Willow glass.
Flexible smartphones and wearable computing devices are two primary applications for Willow glass. Earlier this year Samsung Display demonstrated a smartphone with bendable screen, but the company did not reveal, when such a device is set to become available.
Corning Willow is expected to support thinner backplanes and color filters for both organic light emitting diodes (OLED) and liquid crystal displays (LCD) in high-performance, portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers. This new, ultra-slim flexible glass will also help develop conformable (curved) displays for immersive viewing or mounting on non-flat surfaces.
Corning Willow glass is formulated to perform exceptionally well for electronic components such as touch sensors, as well as leveraging glass’s natural hermetic properties as a seal for OLED displays and other moisture and oxygen-sensitive technologies.
Corning Willow glass is projected to enable thin, light and cost-efficient applications including today’s slim displays and the smart surfaces of the future. The thinness, strength, and flexibility of the glass has the potential to enable displays to be “wrapped” around a device or structure. Corning Willow glass can be processed at temperatures up to 500°C, which is essential for today’s high-end displays.