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Corning Gorilla Glass: Glass Changes the World

Custom corning gorilla glass

The advent of the mobile internet era has turned smartphones into extensions of human bodies, with more and more people starting their day and ending their night by looking at their phones. The smartphone screen, though small, has the power to expand people’s circles and shrink the world. The pace of smartphone updates is rapid, with products like the iPhone, Redmi Note, Samsung GALAXY, S5, HTC One M8, and Meizu MX3 upgrading approximately every year. However, what many fail to realize is that the glass used in these smartphone screens has been in development for a whopping 45 years.

Corning gorilla Glass History

In 1851, Amory Houghton founded a company bearing the same name as the town it was located in, Corning, just north of New York City, USA. Today, after 164 years, this company has become a global leader in specialty glass and ceramic materials. Around 50% of the 10,000 residents of Corning work for the company, making the town a popular destination for visitors interested in global technology leadership. At Corning, it’s common for products to wait for the market, and Gorilla Glass is a typical example. Back in 1952, a chemist at Corning, Donald Stookey, was conducting experiments on a new type of glass. He accidentally heated a piece of photosensitive glass sample to 900°C instead of the intended 600°C. Surprisingly, the glass didn’t melt but turned into a white thin sheet. When he tried to pick it up, it slipped from his hand but didn’t shatter; instead, it bounced. This fortunate accident led to the birth of the first piece of tempered glass, which Stookey named Pyroceram. This material, lighter than aluminum yet stronger than ordinary soda-lime glass and even high-carbon steel, found its way into rockets, spacecraft, ballistic missiles, making Stookey a wealthy man. After the success of Pyroceram, Corning initiated a major project called Project Muscle to explore ways to further enhance glass strength, leading to the creation of Chemcor glass. Extensive experiments demonstrated that this glass outperformed traditional glass in various aspects, especially in resistance to everyday damage. This was the precursor to Gorilla Glass. Leveraging its expertise in materials science and process technology,.

Corning has created numerous key technologies used in high-tech consumer electronics, fiber optics communication, specialty materials, environmental technology, life sciences, and other fields.

Corning Glass Enters the Smartphone Era

In 2005, Motorola’s RAZR V3 smartphone replaced traditional high-strength plastic with glass screens. Influenced by this, Corning launched the Gorilla Glass project to revitalize Chemcor technology. This led to the creation of Gorilla Glass, as we know it today. How would the material used for windshields in cars perform in smartphones? What processes could be used to manufacture thinner glass? These were the questions that needed answers. In 2007, just before the first iPhone was set to hit the market, Steve Jobs, the perfectionist, angrily announced to his subordinates, “Our product’s screen shouldn’t be so easily scratched. I want scratch-resistant glass screens, and I want them perfect within six weeks.” Jobs then approached Corning’s CEO, Wendell P. Weeks, demanding a thin, scratch-resistant glass screen for the iPhone within six weeks. Scientists Adam Ellison and Matt Dejneka toiled tirelessly, using a process called “fusion draw” to make the glass thinner. They also altered the glass composition to increase its viscosity, compressive stress, and ion exchange rate. In May 2007, Gorilla Glass went into mass production. Although it missed the first batch of iPhones, 8,000 Foxconn workers were urgently assembled to replace the iPhone screens a month before the product launch.

After the iPhone was released, users, unaware of the term “Gorilla Glass,” praised the screens. Corning soared, with more than 750 types of products, including smart TVs, smartphones, and laptops, adopting Gorilla Glass within five years. The revenue from this product line grew from zero to $1 billion.

Smartphone

Types of Corning Glass

Looking back at the birth of Gorilla Glass, it’s evident that Corning values research and development. With ongoing advancements, the second generation of Gorilla Glass was introduced in 2012. It was 20% thinner than its predecessor while maintaining the same resistance to damage, hardness, and scratch resistance, resulting in brighter screens and more responsive touchscreens. In 2013, after scientists modified it at the atomic level, the third generation of Gorilla Glass offered three times the damage resistance of previous versions. BMW’s i8 electric car became the first vehicle to use Gorilla Glass, which served as soundproof glass to block the engine noise. Today, Corning has introduced its seventh-generation Gorilla Glass. Through testing and research, Corning discovered that many smartphone screens crack due to contact with sharp surfaces. Often, the glass already has minor scratches and damage before the contact. Although these abrasions are invisible to the naked eye, dropping the phone increases the likelihood of screen breakage. Tests have shown that dropping the fourth-generation Gorilla Glass from a height of 1 meter results in an 80% chance of it remaining intact.

Gorilla Glass: The original Gorilla Glass was introduced to provide enhanced scratch resistance and durability compared to standard glass. It set the foundation for future improvements in toughness and damage resistance.

Gorilla Glass 2: This version was about 20% thinner than the original Gorilla Glass without compromising on its durability and resistance. The thinner glass allowed for sleeker and lighter electronic devices.

Gorilla Glass 3: Introduced with a new feature called Native Damage Resistance (NDR), Gorilla Glass 3 significantly improved scratch resistance and strength. It was designed to be three times more damage-resistant than Gorilla Glass 2.

Gorilla Glass 4: Focused on improving drop resistance, Gorilla Glass 4 was formulated to be twice as tough as its predecessor when dropped on rough surfaces. This version specifically aimed to protect devices from high-impact drops.

Gorilla Glass 5: Further improving drop resistance, Gorilla Glass 5 was engineered to survive drops onto hard, rough surfaces from greater heights (up to 1.6 meters or about 5 feet 3 inches) with improved survival rates.

Gorilla Glass 6: This iteration offered even greater improvements in both drop and scratch resistance. Gorilla Glass 6 was designed to survive multiple drops from greater heights and provided enhanced durability for longer-lasting devices.

Gorilla Glass Victus: Representing a significant leap forward, Gorilla Glass Victus not only offered better drop and scratch resistance than Gorilla Glass 6 but also boasted the highest durability of any Gorilla Glass to date. Victus aimed to set new benchmarks in the industry for performance against drops and scratches.

Applications of Gorilla Glass

Exploring Commercial Value in Multiple Fields Glass, essentially a mixture of fine powders like sand, limestone, and sodium borate, is now a complex industrial product appearing in various forms. Many Chinese users associate Corning with transparent glass pots, but in 1998, Corning’s tableware division was sold off. Where else are Corning products active? They are not only present in the screens of smartphones, wearable devices, and electronic products used daily but also in aircraft window glass, emission control, semiconductor optics, optical fibers, LCD displays, laboratory vessels, telescope lenses, and products in various other fields. Corning’s technological development not only reflects in the company’s growth but also in maximizing the commercial value of its technology. Corning deploys its technology in multiple fields, accumulating a vast amount of intellectual property through patent applications and publications. Although Corning is a material company, it’s hard to pigeonhole it into one specific material sector. Don’t underestimate the significance of Gorilla Glass mentioned earlier; it’s just a “young” project under Corning’s “Specialty Materials Division.” Besides application in the smart device domain, antimicrobial glass can also find use in industries with high human traffic or strict hygiene standards, such as transportation and hospitals.

Custom gorilla glass for wearable device

Sapphire Glass

Apple’s introduction of the Apple Watch at its Spring Product Launch on March 10, 2015, drew widespread attention. Instead of Corning’s Gorilla Glass, it adopted sapphire glass. Let’s analyze why sapphire wasn’t used in the iPhone 6 but was chosen for the Apple Watch. Firstly, the positioning of a watch is higher-end compared to a smartphone, carrying a touch of luxury, making the relatively expensive sapphire more suitable. Secondly, although sapphire’s performance in impact resistance and durability isn’t as good as Gorilla Glass, the probability of a watch falling to the ground under normal use should be much lower than that of a smartphone. However, the emergence of sapphire glass might not necessarily be bad news for Corning. A formidable competitor may provide a new opportunity for Corning. In its more than 100-year history of development, Corning has never ceased research and innovation. If the company does encounter a crisis due to sapphire, perhaps new technological reserves, such as Willow Glass (flexible glass), will emerge. Willow Glass, developed by Corning, is an ultra-thin flexible glass, only 100 microns thick, like a sheet of paper. Imagine using flexible glass for displays in the future, which would mean that screens are no longer just flat panels or have fixed curvature but can bend freely. Willow Glass can be used in smartphones and may also be applied in flexible solar cells, making future devices lighter and more creative. We look forward to new materials and technologies like Willow Glass bringing revolutionary changes to the next generation of consumer and production products.

Custom sapphire glass for watch

Conclusion

Corning Gorilla Glass has revolutionized the world of glass technology, particularly in the realm of smartphone screens. Its journey from accidental discovery to mass production reflects Corning’s commitment to research and development. The evolution of Gorilla Glass through multiple generations showcases its continuous improvement in toughness, scratch resistance, and drop protection. From its introduction in smartphones to its application in various other industries like automotive and aerospace, Gorilla Glass has diversified its commercial value. As Gorilla Glass continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the next generation of consumer and production products.

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