Corning Launches Flexible Glass

June 4, 2012

In conjunction with a display industry trade show this week, Corning Inc. is launching Willow Glass, an ultra-slim flexible glass, which the manufacturer says could revolutionize the shape and form of next-generation consumer electronic technologies.

 Corning's Willow glass

“Displays become more pervasive each day and manufacturers strive to make both portable devices and larger displays thinner," says Dipak Chowdhury, division vice president and Willow Glass program director. "Corning Willow Glass provides the substrate performance to maintain device quality in a thin and light form factor.”

Like Corning’s other leading-edge glass substrates, including Eagle XG Slim and Corning Lotus Glass, the new flexible glass is produced using the company’s proprietary fusion process. Advances in fusion forming have made it possible to produce glass that is 100 microns thick–about the thickness of a sheet of copy paper. Even at that thickness, it provides hermetic sealing to sensitive components, while also providing excellent optical, thermal, and surface properties, the company states.

Although initially being launched as an advanced display substrate, Corning is actively working on other potential applications for its Willow Glass, including use in lighting and flexible solar cells. Based in Corning, N.Y., the company is currently shipping samples of its Willow Glass to customers developing new display and touch applications. The company is also collaborating with research institutions, customers, and equipment makers to develop an ecosystem of compatible process equipment, including optimized process design.

For use on portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and notebook computers, the glass also offers the thinness, strength, and flexibility to enable it to be “wrapped” around a device or structure, the company notes. As well, Corning Willow Glass can be processed at temperatures up to 500°C. High temperature processing capability is essential for today’s high-end displays, and is a processing condition that cannot be supported with polymer films, the manufacturer points out. Corning Willow Glass will enable the industry to pursue high-temperature, continuous “roll-to-roll” processes–similar to how newsprint is produced–that have been impossible until now.

“Corning will continue to develop and improve innovative glass products to enable the high-performance, game-changing displays that will drive tomorrow’s increasingly diverse electronics markets,” Chowdhury says.