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What is Gorilla Glass? The Science Behind Its Durability

Tempered gorilla glass

In 2008, a new type of thin, ion-strengthened glass —called gorilla glass — came into the limelight. Today, it graces the screens of mobile phones and TV’s or other kinds of displays. The use of gorilla glass also extends to the construction and automotive industries, as you’ll shortly find out. This article has everything about gorilla glass explained, including its many uses.

Gorilla glass material
Gorilla glass material

What is Gorilla Glass?

Gorilla glass is a kind of tough, chemically-hardened glass. Today, the name is synonymous with the screens of mobile devices where it offers scratch-resistant surfaces that will also not break easily.

Gorilla Glass Meaning

Gorilla is the brand name given to a type of glass that was originally made by Corning, a glass manufacturer. It’s basically aluminosilicate, or glass that contains aluminum oxide. This gives it important characteristics such as optical clarity and reduced weight.

Gorilla vs. Normal Glass

here’s what you need to know about their difference: Gorilla glass is harder than ordinary glass, about 3 to 4 times more. Unlike normal glass, it doesn’t scratch easily, or even break upon being impacted by small forces — it will only get damaged when subjected to too much abuse.

Gorilla glass sheet
Gorilla glass sheet

How is Gorilla Glass Made?

Corning glass is made by chemically fortifying ordinary glass. This involves using large sodium ions to replace the smaller sodium ions of normal glass in what’s commonly called the ion exchange process. Besides using the right materials, extreme heat is also needed when making gorilla glass.

Gorilla Glass Materials

The base material for making gorilla glass is alkali aluminosilicate. Its composition is a mix of silicone dioxide, sodium, aluminum, and magnesium. The exact composition when it comes to the gorilla glass materials is company specific, and a secret that cannot be made public.

However, what’s clear is that the materials must be fine-tuned with the aim of improving the rate of ion exchange when manufacturing the glass, as well as enhancing the compressive forces that make the surface of gorilla glass to resist damage.

Making Gorilla Glass

Making gorilla glass involves a process called ion exchange, a bath of molten potassium salt, and 400°C heat levels. Here’s how it goes:

  • A sheet of alkali-aluminosilicate glass is dipped in a bath of hot, molten potassium salt
  • Under the extreme heat of the salt bath, a process called ion exchange takes place
  • Sodium ions move out of the glass, while potassium ions move in to replace them
  • But potassium ions are larger, so they get squeezed in the spaces left in the glass
  • Upon cooling, the tightly packed potassium ions for a stress layer on the glass surface
  • The stress layer is composed of compressive forces. This is what results in the gorilla glass features that we all know about, and which include break and scratch resistance.
Gorilla glass processing
Gorilla glass processing

Gorilla Glass Hardness

The hardness of gorilla glass is what makes it usable in many different applications. This important characteristic is best explained by answering the most asked questions about the material as below.

How Hard is Gorilla Glass?

Very hard! Compared to normally glass, gorilla glass is around 3 to 4 times stronger. On the Moh’s scale, gorilla glass hardness rating scores a 7, which makes it more resistant to scratches than normal glass. It’s one of the reasons why the glass finds widespread use, most often as display material for mobile phones and other electronic products.

Can Gorilla Glass Break?

It can. While it scores high on the Moh’s scale, the hard surface of gorilla glass doesn’t make it completely unbreakable. But that would require large forces than those that break normal glass. According to tests, you can drop gorilla glass from about a meter and it will not break.

Tempered gorilla glass
Tempered gorilla glass

Gorilla Glass Benefits

Gorilla glass benefits include its ability to stand up to impact forces, despite being very thin. This makes it one of the best materials to use on mobile devices that are prone to being dropped from considerable heights (about a meter or so).

Gorilla glass hardness also makes it resist scratches. Again, this makes it suited for the displays of mobile electronic devices. These are gadgets that you’re likely place in the pocket with other items like keys.

Thin and lightweight, gorilla glass will not introduce unnecessary weight to products or devices which is one of its major benefits, especially when used on the screens of wearables.

Another of the many gorilla glass benefits is its good optical clarity. That means you can use in any application that requires minimal absorption of light photons such as windows, electronic displays, and car windshields.

Gorilla glass windshield on a jeep
Gorilla glass windshield on a jeep
Resource: https://www.4xeforums.com

Gorilla Glass Uses

The widespread use of gorilla glass includes the electronics industry, construction, the automotive sector, and even photography —where it’s used to manufacture lenses. These gorilla glass uses are further explained below.

Mobile Phone

One of the most popular gorilla glass uses is the screens of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets or smart watches. You’ll also often find it being used to cover the lenses of phone cameras. A gorilla glass camera lens cover prevents scratches that would otherwise cause aberration.

The use of gorilla glass on phones is favored for its ability to stand up to damage by breakage or scratching. The glass also provides for thin and lightweight screens with excellent optical clarity.

Gorilla glass panel
Gorilla glass panel

Windshield

One of the first applications of gorilla glass, shortly after its invention, was the windshield of a Ford automobile. Today, a gorilla glass windshield is commonplace. This type of car windshield is thin, lightweight, and able to resist damage for durability. Gorilla glass in cars has also been used for passenger windows.

Glass Display

Apart from it use on the screens of mobile devices such as smartphones, gorilla glass is a preferred material for the displays of laptops and televisions, especially due to its durability and clarity features. A gorilla glass display, owing to the fact that the material can be made in thin sheets, allows for compact devices, in addition to a clear view.

Windows

In the construction sector, gorilla glass is being used for the windows of both commercial and residential buildings. In addition to being light, gorilla glass windows do not break or scratch easily and they remain looking great for a long time.

Conclusion

Gorilla glass is popular in many applications and industries. The use of gorilla glass on phones is one of its major uses, with virtually every such device featuring one.

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