Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Corning's Gorilla Glass has become synonymous with smartphone protection, but the company has grander goals for the shielding material. One of Gorilla Glass's initial appearances was on the first version of the iPhone in 2007, but the concept of tough glass goes back several decades, addressing needs for hardened glazing and specific industrial applications.
Last week, Corning announced that its Gorilla Glass will be used for windshields in the new Ford GT, a supercar from the American auto manufacturer. Ford and Corning are collaborating to produce new windshield glass for next year's GT that promises to be thinner, lighter and tougher. Ford will use the hybrid glass for the windshield as well as the engine cover for the GT, and a third sheet of pure Gorilla Glass will be used as a bulkhead window between the cabin and the engine compartment.
Corning says that windshields made of Gorilla Glass are much less likely to develop chips or cracks from flying road debris or hail.
Gorilla Glass is expected to have practical applications wherever tough glass is needed and touch interfaces are to be used. This includes implementations throughout future homes filled with interactive furniture and connected appliances. Imagine, for example, a table-top with a glass screen that doubles as a large multitouch screen or entire walls made of glass with displays on the other side.
But Gorilla Glass is still too expensive for many aspects of Corning's touch-everything vision. Its addition to the bill of materials of a $400,000 car like Ford's exclusive GT is relatively mild. But the difference for ordinary household items would be very noticeable. Gorilla Glass will have to work its way down from supercars to coffee tables.
A new version of Gorilla Glass, code-named Phire, is claimed to have similar scratch-resistant properties to that of sapphire glass as well as the drop durability of Gorilla Glass 4. We expect Corning to introduce the material for more general uses. The company is also developing a razor-thin glass material with the flexibility of plastic and the durability of steel.
Ford's supercar getting Corning's super glass is the start of wider implementation. We expect as volumes increase and costs come down, such material will be used in a wider array of products, particularly as touch interfaces begin to appear in more everyday items.
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